Broadening the local market place
TIN Arts, a social enterprise in County Durham, runs participatory dance projects for people of all ages and abilities. GeTIN2Dance, is a contemporary dance course for adults with learning disabilities. It is funded entirely through direct payments. It is designed to be inclusive, fun and stimulating giving people a chance to explore different dance styles, create new moves and rehearse for performances.
In 2005, TIN Arts approached Durham County Council to discuss moving from a subsidised model to one where people could choose to attend GeTIN2Dance as part of their local authority care.
'Partly it is about asking people, what do you want to do, what do you aspire to? But it also aims to move people away from dependence on statutory services and meet social care and health needs in a more inclusive way.'
David Shipman, Strategic Commissioning Manager at Durham County Council
Sometimes traditional day services can struggle to motivate people to attend. This isn't the case with TIN Arts'. The variety of dance offers a sure-fire way to keep participants engaged and excited, and doing new things.
"We're constantly changing the theme for our performances. We never sit still; there is progression and difference every year. That means people want to stay and carry on with us."
Martin Wilson, TIN Arts' Chief Executive.
Based on the opinions of carers, care coordinators and service users, TIN Arts identified several wider benefits, including improved self-confidence, group and interpersonal skills, establishing strong friendships, improved organisational and planning skills and increased levels of physical activity.
TIN Arts prices its service competitively at £52 a day, slightly lower than the cost of a day of local authority-provided care. Durham County Council monitors TIN Arts' work through its regular service monitoring activity. But the real measure of success is service users' annual reviews of their care plans. Social workers and care coordinators work with individuals to look at how well the plan meets their needs, how much they've spent, and whether they want to continue with the same services. Service users effectively vote with their feet. For TIN Arts, the fact that people return to the programme year on year shows that its approach is working. TIN Arts also asked the social workers who refer people to them for their feedback. They cited increases in confidence, independence, communication skills, interaction and collaboration.
One piece of feedback TIN Arts received from social care workers was particularly welcome: 'they felt we were helping people to broaden their horizons,' says Martin. 'We try to show people the broader creative world; we talk about different dance or art forms, we go and see things and talk about them.' This broadening of horizons is not just about new cultural experiences; it has a very practical side. Becoming familiar with public transport through trips with TIN Arts can have a very positive impact on a person's ability to face the challenges of everyday life, for example. And wider interests may lead people to pursue arts and cultural activities independently, without local authority involvement. 'People meet and discover that they can get involved in theatre and dance groups by themselves,' says David. 'They form friendships with a whole range of people, not just other people with a disability.' For David, the availability of projects like TIN Arts' has added a lot to the social care offering in the area.