Clare RotheramPhD student
The Life Rooms approach: A case study of the possibilities and limitations of exemplifying social model principles
The focus of this thesis is to explore The Life Rooms service. The Life Rooms offers open-access support to communities and individuals across its localities. The Life Rooms sits as part of an NHS mental health and community Trust in the North-West of England and exists as several physical hubs, as well as offering community outreach provision. The Life Rooms offer support in relation to three key areas: learning, social prescribing and community. Learning encompasses course provision exploring issues to do with mental and physical health and wellbeing. Social prescribing support offers people the chance to work with an advisor to explore any social or practical issues they may be struggling with. Community support involves informal and social opportunities, as well as offering individuals and groups a safe space to enjoy and ‘just be’. The Life Rooms is a non-clinical venture, which seeks to engage with local communities and users in order to continuously define and develop the service offer.
This thesis will explore how the aim of The Life Rooms, to create a service that exemplifies a social response to distress, develops in practice. In particular, the thesis includes case studies of prior evidence collection work undertaken within the service to explore this. This work introduces and engages with a number of concepts as part of this process: Insider/outsider, value-based services, atmospheres and social models. Primary data collection will work with these concepts to deepen understanding of The Life Rooms model, with the aim of generating learning for future service provision.
The thesis will outline that the specificities and complexities of the service context for The Life Rooms, as well as my role as both practitioner and researcher of the service, identify a number of tensions. These will include: how my different identities impact on the service and research; how the value base of the service is translated in to practice and where there is compromise and dilution; how the vision for the service manifests in terms of the environment including how this is impacted by organisational context; and how the political aims of the service take effect in light of these developments. It will argue that these tensions and areas of complexity are fruitful and offer learning for future service provision within a social model.
Social Health and Research Lead at The Life Rooms, Mersey Care NHS Foundation Trust
Vicky Singleton and Lisa Morriss