Center for Arts in Medicine

Arts in Healthcare for Rural Communities Toolkit

Program Development Resources

In this part of the toolkit, you will find resources related to the processes of program development, including partner cultivation, needs assessment, community mapping, and strategic planning. These are essential steps in developing sustainable programs that effectively address needs, utilize resources, and engage a wide array of stakeholders.

Arts in healthcare programs for rural communities vary greatly from those designed for urban and suburban settings. In larger communities, arts in healthcare programs are often designed to serve large healthcare facilities with hundreds, or even thousands, of in-patients per day. These programs provide an array of opportunities for artists to be engaged and provide services that enhance the experience of healthcare and also effect health outcomes (see Arts in Healthcare State of the Field Report: 2009). In rural communities, the average daily census in a hospital or clinic may be as little as two to three patients. Additionally, the health concerns and needs in rural communities vary greatly from those in larger communities. Rural community members utilize healthcare services less than people in urban and suburban communities, and rural culture itself accounts for 50-60% of the overall influence on health outcomes in rural communities. Therefore, arts in healthcare programs in rural communities are often more community based than those in larger communities.

Before you Begin:

Welcome to the Arts in Healthcare for Rural Communities Toolkit. This toolkit has been designed to assist rural community-based organizations and outside organization in developing programs and initiatives that engage the arts to address health in rural communities. We recommend that before you begin to use the tools included in this toolkit, that you review the following Arts in Healthcare for Rural Communities Literature Review. While there are many models in place for arts in healthcare programs in urban andsuburban healthcare settings and replicable models for outstanding programs, review of the literature indicates that no models have yet been presented for such programs in rural areas, and that these programs have the potential to contribute to improved health outcomes in rural communities.

The literature review begins with a discussion of the patient-centered and organizational outcomes associated with arts in healthcare programs. Such programs utilize the arts including the visual, performing, and literary arts, to enhance the quality of care provided by healthcare institutions; to improve organizational satisfaction and retention among professional caregivers andstaff; to enhance the environment of care; and to deliver health information. Several meta-analyses of arts in healthcare programs are reviewed as a means for summarizing the applications and benefits of arts in healthcare programs. The review then explores health disparities in rural communities and the importance of designing health promotion programs that address the unique culture of the rural community. This section includes a discussion of the roles of the arts in affecting health-related behaviors and as a means for health education. Next, the review will present research that documents the importance of planning for program sustainability throughout the program planning process and will present a useful set of guidelines for achieving sustainability in community health programs. The review will overview several theories that provide useful foundations for understanding the role of individual meaning as an important aspect of program sustainability. These theories include:

  • Frankyl’s theory of meaning as the ultimate goal of human life;
  • Workplace spirituality as defined by several theorists;
  • the theory of self-transcendence as defined by Frankyl, Coward, and Reed.

Finally, the review will discuss Appreciative Inquiry as a suitable research methodology for assessing meaning and self-transcendence among program planners, staff, volunteers, and other stakeholders.

Needs Assessment:

What is a needs assessment?

By definition, a needs assessment is a systematic process of asking questions, comparing answers, and making informed decisions about what to do next to improve human (or organizational) conditions and performance. In essence, a needs assessment is a problem analysis. The goal of a needs assessment is to identify assets and significant concerns a community may face. In the field of the arts in healthcare, needs assessment is a method that is used to map the needs and resources within the arts and culture, health and wellness, healthcare, education and allied organizations to better understand how services or programs may serve a community. Often a needs assessment is conducted to help partner or program organizers become better acquainted and oriented to a new community, service population, or organization.

Why conduct a needs assessment?

Needs assessment is an essential component to successful program design, planning, implementation and most importantly, sustainability. Conducting a needs assessment allows the program planning team to think broadly and systemically, consider interdisciplinary approaches, and provide justification for decisions before, during, and after they are made. Additionally, the needs assessment process allows for responsive service delivery and offers a replicable process that can be used to focus partners on a shared understanding of issues and strategies. The completed needs assessment sharpens the strategic planning of a project or program guiding clear and measurable goals, objectives and outcomes. Using the needs assessment as a frequent point of reference will serve to strengthen shared values among key stakeholders, a formula that is central to program success.

Community Resource Mapping:

What is Community Resource Mapping?

Community resource mapping is an interactive process used to identify and inventory existing resources in a community that can be engaged in addressing needs in a community. Community Resource Mapping, which can also be referred to as asset mapping, can be used to improve service delivery and outcomes as well as to identify gaps in services that are available in a community. The mapping process acknowledges that, while individual organizations within a community can spurs important positive change, no single organization can do all that is necessary alone. Organizational collaboration is at the heart of the mapping process.

Community resource mapping is being more widely utilized today as a critical step in program development. Several factors are contributing to this increased focus. One of the primary motivating factors is the current economic changes that are effecting funding for non-profit and other service organizations. As fiscal resources become more limited and difficult to access, organizations look more closely at their own resources and at their organizational capacity. Naturally, when an organization’s own resources and capacity are limited, partnership and collaboration become more crucial to addressing community needs.

Resource mapping allows an organization to identify potential partners and resources that can be engaged in addressing community needs. As fiscal resources become more scarce, organizational collaboration can effectively replace duplication of services within communities, and can also spur cross-disciplinary collaboration that can greatly improve services within a community.

On every level, organizations are being asked to cultivate partnerships to deliver multiple services via multiple providers. Community resource mapping is essential to efficient and comprehensive service delivery systems. Resource mapping isn’t just about resource directories, databases and lists; it is about creating a viable and living strategic road map for an entire community.

Program Planning + Development:

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