Cultural visits are found to reduce loneliness and isolation
Can you write a prescription for loneliness? UCL's ‘Museums on Prescription’ project found that arts and culture visits have significant potential to reduce isolation in older age.
Loneliness and social isolation have a significant effect on health whatever your age, but it is a particular concern in older age. UCL’s award-winning Museums on Prescription project gave older adults the opportunity to connect with others in a cultural setting and tracked the impact of these trips on their wellbeing.
The project found that museums, arts and heritage have significant potential to reduce feelings of loneliness and reduce isolation by giving older adults the opportunity to come together with others in spaces which spark conversation and contemplation.
By working closely with psychological services, and local third sector and community organisations, the UCL team – lead by Professor Helen Chatterjee – assessed and evaluated the best way to bring older people together. They then created and ran 12, ten-week programmes of museums-based activities attended by 115 participants in groups of around eight to ten people.
Museums that took part included the British Museum, Canterbury City Museums and Galleries, and UCL Museums and Special Collections.
Museums on Prescription went on to win two Royal Society for Public Health awards, the Arts & Health category in the Health & Wellbeing Awards and a special commendation for Sustainable Development from Public Health England in recognition of this valuable work.
Professor Chatterjee said:
“The project has given us a fantastic insight into the value and impact of cultural activities on health and wellbeing.
Older adults who were prescribed museum visits were also positive about the experience. As one said:
“It opened doors for me. You gave us the opportunity to explore things that we wouldn’t have done by ourselves. Normally I would never have dared come here. It made me feel less lonely. And coming into places where there are quite a few other people makes a place like a museum feel more familiar.
- Credit: Bianca Isofache, Source: Unsplash