York St John University - Research for Occupation and Mental Health
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The Bridge                                                      Issue 29

Bridging the gap between research and practice

This edition introduces the Research programme for Arts and Creativity. The aim of this research programme is to bring together and establish collaborations between researchers, practitioners and service users interested in the relationship between arts, creativity and mental health.
In this issue we are focusing on the work of Occupational Therapists and colleagues at Sheffield Hallam University

At Sheffield Hallam University we weave together our research, consultancy and teaching activities so they build on each other.  Some of our most creative outputs come from our work with students and service users in practice or teaching when we can be spontaneous. The challenge for us is to develop these activities into proper funded research - and still keep the spontaneity. We welcome ideas and case stories on how to do this. Our current and recent projects include formal research that includes artistic and creative activities, and freeform explorations within teaching and practice that are a precursor to formal research or evaluations. For example:
Julie Coleman is writing up her qualitative study on 'Activity and culture in social housing' which highlights the creative problem solving and navigation of loss and barriers as we age. See Julie's article on digital media below.

Sarah Cook and colleagues have designed an OT intervention 'GetREAL'  to train and motivate staff in psychiatric rehabilitation units to better engage residents in creative and chosen activities. OTs and activity workers will start piloting this in February, prior to the multi-site RCT.  http://www.ucl.ac.uk/REAL-Study/ 








       Julie Coleman                                                  Sarah Cook

Nick Pollard is writing about the politics and underlying social dynamics that need to be recognised when we facilitate groups to come together to carry out creative activities such as writing, gardening, knitting etc.  See Nick's article below. 

Joan Healey recently captured the narratives of older people in care, and made a digital book with pictures, poems and recording of older people telling their stories. The 'Creative accounts of care' project was a joint venture with nursing staff, a local poet and occupational therapy students. It involved running a creative writing group over 10 weeks in a local care home for older people.  The aims were to capture their experiences of being cared for and hear the voices of people who rarely have a chance to tell their stories to a wider public. The creative writing enabled individual expression in a supportive environment and resulted in a digital book of people's writing and poems. This digital book is used in multi-disciplinary teaching in the Faculty of Health and Wellbeing at Sheffield Hallam University.








          Nick Pollard                                                     Joan Healey

Claire Craig - is working in creative design within the research team for 'Lab4Living' http://www.lab4living.org.uk/phd-claire-craig and completing her PhD using photography as a medium for collecting and analysing data.

Claire Craig
Julie H Coleman takes you on a digital storytelling journey……


Have you ever come across an occupation which brings together nearly everything you have ever learned and experienced in your adult life and encapsulates many of your skills and training? This is what I found when I discovered digital storytelling and as you can imagine, I became rather excited!

Here's Julie's story » 

Rehabilitation Effectiveness for Activities for Life (REAL). 

News from Sarah Cook, the lead OT researcher on the steering group:

The newly appointed GetREAL teams have recently come together to shape the intervention and creatively develop materials and assessment tools that can be used by staff on long stay rehabilition units.  Although the focus is not restricted to the arts, creative soloutions and media are an important part of this intervention.  We have particularly appreciated having service user consultants contributing to the development of this intervention throughout the process. 

About the REAL study » 

Occupational narratives, community publishing and worker writing groups

Nick Pollard discusses how narratives can be used to explore people's experiences of coming together to pursue creative endeavors and create social change.

Read more here » 

Spotlight on research

This month's Spotlight on Research is by Nick Pollard: RCT Study design to evaluate benefits of art therapy shows how to make the case for interventions

Read this month's article »

The Look at Me! Images of Women & Ageing Project


Be inspired by this creative and participatory research process . The project is being led by a team of researchers from the University of Sheffield and Derby , by Eventus, a Sheffield-based cultural development agency, and by Rosy Martin, an artist and photo-therapist.

The Look at Me! Images of Women & Ageing Project aims to transform the way society views older women. This is a unique project which will challenge the current perceptions of older women in our society. The Second World Assembly on Ageing in 2003 recognised a need to challenge stereotyped images of ageing, particularly in relation to older women. The use of visual methods as a means of allowing older women to tell us their experiences of ageing is one way of doing this but, to date, `ordinary´ older women have not had the opportunity to either comment on, or create, their own images of ageing. This project aims to do precisely that. We have invited older women in Sheffield to join our creative workshops exploring images of ageing. The women were given the opportunity to create their own images of the ageing process, which we are proposing to exhibit at public venues in and around Sheffield in March 2011 to mark the centenary of International Women’s Day.

This two year collaborative project has been funded by the Economic and Social Research Council as part of the New Dynamics of Ageing Programme.  Check out further funding opportunities by keeping an eye on this website: http://www.newdynamics.group.shef.ac.uk/funding-opportunities.html

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