Case Study: Stories on Prescription

Authors(s), Creator(s) and Contributors: Eleanor Shaw - PeopleSpeakUp LTD

Publication Date: 16/01/2024

Categories: Case Studies

Partner(s): PeopleSpeakUp

Funder(s): ACW


A preventative stories on prescription service to help older people in the West Wales area to become more independent, resilient, feel less lonely, socially isolated & improve mental health/wellbeing. Working in Partnership with Carmarthenshire County Council, HDUHB, Swansea Council & Beyond The Border International Storytelling Festival. The service consists of:

• One to One Stories by Door/Phone/Zoom with a professional traditional storyteller.

• In-person storytelling sessions in care homes across Carmarthenshire and Swansea.

• Pod Siarad to hold small group activities in rural communities.

• Group storytelling and story sharing online and face to face for older people to come together

The Challenge

People Speak Up has been part of The Carmarthenshire United Support Partnership for 4 years, working on the ground with older people that are on the cusp of needing support at home as a preventative service. During the pandemic PSU worked closely with The British Red Cross, CAVS and Age Cymru Dyfed in supporting those older people that were living alone in isolation and were showing signs of low mental health issues. Post Lockdown these conditions increased across the region, some services were not delivering their services face to face, day centres were closed. So PSU developed their storytelling service to combat these needs that were identified by CUSP partners.

The Approach

Care Homes - 53 sessions 1 to 1 stories - 54 sessions Total - 107 sessions 99 individual participants Total Attendance - 474

There was a big increase in the number of sessions delivered across both strands of the programme. This was in response to the demand from care homes, social groups and individuals. The budget was restructured to facilitate more delivery in the areas that had the highest demand. Delivery input from core staff Eleanor Shaw (project manager), Carys Phillips (project coordinator and facilitator) and Ffion Weston (facilitator).


The project employed 3 freelance professional storytellers: Deb Winter, Phil Okwedy and Ceri John Phillips. Phil Okwedy was employed to facilitate the social groups. Storyteller’s fees were built into the project budget based on £250/day.

Project manager – 2 days a week x 26 weeks £8,100

Project co-ordinator – 1 day a week @ £150 x 26 weeks £3,900

Facilitator Fee – Stories by Door – 12 days @ £150 per day £1,800 Facilitator Fee x 2 – Care Homes – 53.5 days @ £150 per day £16,050 Facilitator Fee x 2 – Pod Siarad – 10 days @ £150 per day £4,500 Storyteller Fee – Stories by Door – 12 days @ £250 per day £3,000

Evaluation £1,800

Film £2,000

The Impact

The evaluation builds on the previous Stories on Prescription pilot project, in which we got a clear understanding of the wellbeing impacts on participants in a general way through surveys and focus groups. Dr Tracy Breathnach evaluated the project. Primarily using quantitative data including interviews, phone surveys, a focus group and a care home visit/observation. These were transcribed and we used a simple thematic analysis to draw out the main themes of the impact. The film shows the impact from conversations with the storytellers and participants. The outcomes of that evaluation were that based on the various strands of feedback received from participants, support staff and artists the main wellbeing and health benefits are:

1. Improved mood: immediate impact and in some cases long-term impact.

2. More cohesion in groups.

3. Less negative thoughts and a greater sense of mental balance.

4. Increased sense of connection with self and others.

5. Increased inspiration and sense of purpose.

6. Increased confidence and communication skills.

7. Increased sense of belonging and being part of a community.

8. Increased acceptance and understanding of own and others’ ne

Lessons Learned

Capacity was the biggest challenge for this project for a small organisation like PSU. We are realising that we do so much delivery in projects, we have learnt that we need to design projects leaving time and space for more reflection and staff wellbeing. The power of storytelling is evident and the developing friendships that take place during the project - This is an area that we would like to develop and lasting legacy in the care homes post project delivery. The next project will include a full staff wellbeing programme.

The Legacy

This storytelling prescription service has become and integral part of our working model, we are being commissioned to deliver similar services by the local authority and health board across Carmarthenshire. Generating income for PSU to continue arts and health services across the region. “It has just been fantastic, it works so effortlessly, I have to pinch myself that it happened, so grateful!” “It’s been amazing having these sessions, I feel so good and upbeat.” “The stories were great and we had a laugh re-living old memories".

Website and Social Media Links - Project Video 

Contact Details

Eleanor Shaw - Artistic & Business Director

Tags: Storytelling Arts & health mental health & wellbeing Older People Loneliness & Isolation Resilience Carmarthenshire Swansea Care Homes Dementia Independent Living

Stories on Prescription