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(KESS2 MbyRes Studentship): A Realist Review and Evaluation of SPARK: An Arts in Health Intervention for Older People in Wales

   Faculty of Life Sciences and Education

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  Dr Mark Davies  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (UK Students Only)

Cardiff United Kingdom Epidemiology Health Informatics Nursing & Health Psychology Social Work

About the Project

This is a funded MbyRes, including a generous stipend and tuition fees, with well-resourced circumstances for a successful scholarship.

Here is an exciting opportunity to study the SPARK Arts for Health intervention which could lead to entirely new approaches in the use of creative and participatory arts-based activities to reduce social isolation and loneliness for older people in Wales.

The selected candidate will apply their research skills and ambition to deliver this very topical evaluation project. This Realist Review and Evaluation study will allow the student to develop transferrable knowledge and skills in this emerging field of research spanning arts practice and social care.

This Knowledge Economy Skills Scholarship (KESS) project will be held in the Faculty Life Sciences and Education at the University of South Wales and the Wales School for Social Prescribing Research (WSSPR). KESS is a programme funded by the European Social Fund (ESF) awarded by the Welsh European Funding Office (WEFO) in the Welsh Government. The MbyRes will be undertaken in association with Re-Live UK. The project will focus on the experience of stakeholders associated with the delivery of the ‘SPARK’ Arts in Health intervention; a detailed evaluation of this will contribute to building an evidence-base for a participatory arts project, generating a Realist Programme Theory that will allow the intervention to be scaled and deployed elsewhere in Wales.

The project is backed by Re-Live: an award-winning charity providing a dynamic programme of Life Story Theatre, Arts in Health group work, and experiential training. Since 2006, Re-Live has worked alongside participant performers in devising theatre productions and creative work with vulnerable groups including throughout Wales.

Programme of Research:

Social loneliness may be conceptualised as feeling lonely due to limited “wider social contacts or networks”. Emotional loneliness involves a lack of “close relationships or emotional attachments” e.g., no partner. In Wales social loneliness is reported by 34% of people, compared to 20% reporting emotional loneliness. Loneliness is linked to social isolation (limited human connection) & perceived isolation, poor health, long-term illness, & low mental & subjective well-being. Research identifies unique health impacts - physical health issues in response to social disconnection & mental health issues to perceived loneliness. Recent studies link limited social contact with increased mortality. Despite lower population, rural living is not directly linked to social isolation or loneliness; indeed, urban areas have higher self-reported rates.

The SPARK (Social, Participatory Arts, Research & Knowledge) project connects older people throughout Wales to an arts, health, and wellbeing intervention online via teleconferencing software. SPARK aims to reduce social isolation and loneliness - promoting biopsychosocial engagement through online Life Story group sessions which include elements of drama and movement. The aim of the study is to investigate whether the SPARK Arts for Health intervention is beneficial in reducing social isolation and loneliness in its older adult participants. It will consider how, why, for whom and to what extent it works so that learning can be translated across Wales.

Eligibility of Student:

To be eligible to hold a KESS studentship, you must:

·      have a home address in East Wales area (details below)* at the time of registration.

·      have the right to take up paid work in the East Wales area* on completion of the scholarship.

·      be classified by the University as ‘home’ or ‘EU’ for tuition fees purposes according to the University’s guidelines.

·      satisfy University of South Wales’s admissions criteria: see below, qualifications and experience and application process

Qualifications and experience:

Eligible applicants will:

1.      Have a degree (2i or higher) in an appropriate healthcare, social science, or arts psychotherapy discipline

2.      Possess a reasonable understanding of research methods and current issues in health and social care

3.      Be highly self-motivated, with capacity to learn and develop new skills and techniques

4.      Have well-developed and positively collaborative interpersonal skills

5.      Have an ability to deliver technical reports and communicate findings

6.      Be willing to travel and work in both virtual and community settings

Application Process:

To download an application package, please visit: Participant Application Package

For any queries on eligibility, please contact: KESS Team at Research and Innovation Services, University of South Wales: [Email Address Removed] Tel: 01443 482578

For informal enquiries or further programme information, please contact: Dr Mark Davies ([Email Address Removed]).

Further information at:

Funding Notes

The studentship will cover the fees for a full-time MbyRes programme and pay a stipend of circa £11.8k p.a. There is also around £3k project support costs available for consumables, travel, minor equipment, training (including the KESS Grad School) and conference attendance.
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