Research Article| Volume 124, P15-24, June 2019

The social value of the arts for care home residents in England: A Social Return on Investment (SROI) analysis of the Imagine Arts programme


      • Arts activities lead to positive outcomes for people with dementia.
      • We used social return on investment (SROI) analysis to assess the social and economic benefits of an arts intervention.
      • We found that people with dementia experienced improved cognition and physical health.
      • Care home staff had increased confidence in using arts interventions.



      Direct involvement in creative activities can have benefits in terms of improved attention and positive engagement for older people. We used the social return on investment (SROI) approach to explore the social and economic benefits of arts activities for older people living in residential homes in England.


      We complied with the CHEERS checklist and followed the six stages of SROI as reported in the literature.


      We identified three main stakeholders: care home residents, care home personnel, and activity co-ordinators. For residents, the outcomes of interest were: community inclusion, mental and physical health, improved cognition and decreased social isolation. For care home personnel and activity co-ordinators the outcomes were: improved skills in caring for older people and increased confidence in using arts interventions. The analysis yielded an SROI of £1.20 for every £1 of expenditure. The sensitivity analysis revealed that when we consider a displacement rate of 15% for all the outcomes of all participating stakeholders, the Imagine study is unlikely to report a ratio that is less than £1.02 for every £1.00 invested.


      Findings could inform policy decisions about investment in the arts and health or social care.


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