Purpose: Community-arts programs work with individuals who have been identified as experiencing some type of problem or difficulty (mental/physical health; social isolation; anti-social behaviour) or are at risk of experiencing such problems or difficulties in the future (Newman, Curtis & Stephens, 2003). The incorporation of arts in the community/group activity promotes an environment that is safe and encourages creativity whereby individuals are able to express themselves, which promotes self-awareness, insight and self-expression (Quinn, Shulman, Knifton, & Byrne, 2010). The purpose of this study was to conduct an evaluation of “Golden Oldies”, a community-arts program, which provides an environment for older adults across the southwest of England to gather and sing songs for one hour a week. The evaluation aimed to determine the impact the program had on the participants’ perceived health and well-being, ability to connect to the community and extent to which the program encouraged participants to become socially active. Method: This study utilized mixed-methods, which consisted of a 15-item questionnaire distributed to 10% (N=120) of the participants and 5 individual interviews. The questionnaire addressed the participants’ perceived physical and emotional well-being, the extent to which they were involved or connected to their communities and their perceived overall health before and during their participation in the program. Semi-structured individual interviews sought to garner participants’perceptions and experiences with the program. The interviews lasted between 30-65 minutes and took place in the participants’ homes. The interviews were audio taped, transcribed, and analysed through content analysis (Krippendorff, 1980; Silverman, 1993). Findings: Participants were primarily female (82.5%) and the average age was 75 years. A majority of respondents either agreed or strongly agreed that their participation in “Golden Oldies” gave them confidence (90%), had a positive effect on their life (95%), helped them to relax (96%), relieve stress (95%), contributed to their emotional well-being (92%), overall well-being (93%), their self-esteem (88%), helped them to stay healthy (81%), feel connected to the community (86%) and strengthened the community (89%). A paired-samples t-test revealed that there was a statistically significant difference between perceived health before stating “Golden Oldies” (M=2.97, SD=1.06) and to the time of the questionnaire (M=3.46; SD= .77) condition, t (115) = -4.96, p <.001. The content analysis of the individual interviews revealed that “Golden Oldies” helped to: (1) reduce social isolation; (2) promote social networking/make friends; and (3) promoted positive physical and emotional health. Implications: The findings revealed that the “Golden Oldies” program is perceived by the participants to have enhanced their physical and emotional well-being and encouraged social supports and participation in the community. The findings support the growing body of evidence demonstrating the positive impact that can be achieved through community-arts programs (Johnson & Stanley, 2007; Newman et al., 2003; Quinn et al., 2010; Staricoff, 2006). Given the many positive benefits increasingly being evidenced, the social work profession should capitalize on such programs as potential interventions to prevent or address problems faced by older adults. Implications and suggestions for practice will be further illustrated.
|Translated title of the contribution||Singing for your health: An evaluation of the Golden Oldies Community-Arts Program|
|Title of host publication||Society for Social Work Research, Washington DC|
|Publication status||Published - 2012|