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Developing a novel health and well-being service: The value of utilising the restorative benefits of nature in the UK

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Research from a number of sources attests to the value that people place on many of the attributes of the countryside, particularly tranquillity and peacefulness. The use of natural settings has been shown to be effective in assisting the restorative process. Some would go further to argue for the development of the practice of active engagement in social and therapeutic horticulture and agriculture as a form of therapy, particularly in regard to the benefits to health, well-being, and improved recovery times. This phenomenon is utilised in the development of a novel service (CaRE - Care and Rural Enterprise) based on collaboration between rural micro-businesses and a UK university, reflecting a national government agenda of linking business with higher education. The approach to this new service development is one of action research, which has been used particularly by health and social care practitioners who wish to improve their practices by a cycle of gradual learning and improvement and the encouragement of reflection. Modern health care provision has come to emphasise delivery of value for patients as consumers, often placing them at the centre of stakeholder networks. This paper reviews the progress of a novel respite care service that linked social provision to rural entrepreneurial activity, and charts development from what was envisaged initially as private-sector niche opportunities in health and recuperative care, evolving into social care in the rural environment. The study resulted in the initiation and development of the CaRE service providing a network of rural community-based care facilities.

Keywords: action research; respite care; restorative experience; rural business opportunity; value in health care

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Harper Adams University College, UK 2: University of Lincoln Business School, UK

Publication date: 2011-03-01

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