Culture on Prescription

Culture on Prescription

Client / Funding programme:

Erasmus+, KA220-ADU – Cooperation partnerships in adult education

Views and opinions expressed are however those of the author(s) only and do not necessarily reflect those of the European Union or the European Commission. Neither the European Union nor the European Commission can be held responsible for them.


Start and end dates:
01-01-2022 – 01-04-2024

AFEdemy role in the project:

Dissemination and exploitation manager.
Particular responsibilities of AFEdemy are:
• Desk research and interviews for compendium, documentation of results, contributions to peer-reviews
• Contributions to the interactive learning platform
• Running of Culture on Prescription pilot course, contributions to training kit
• Support to survey in PR4, contributions to recommendations for decision-makers, contributions to peer-reviews
• Translations into Dutch
• Organisation of multiplier event in the Netherlands
• Print of Dutch brochures

☐ Coordination
☐ Curriculum development
e-Learning Platform
☐ Policy recommendation
☐ Sustainability


Based on European Social Survey (ESS) data, the Joint Research Centre of the European Commission stated in 2019 that more than 75 million European adults meet with family or friends at most once a month, and around 30 million European adults frequently feel lonely. Loneliness is more prevalent in Eastern and Southern Europe than in Western and Northern Europe. Poor health, unfavourable economic circumstances and living alone are all associated with higher rates of loneliness.

Loneliness affects all age groups. The significance of loneliness for individual well-being and social cohesion must not be underestimated. The mortality risk of loneliness is comparable to that of obesity and smoking. Persistent loneliness is further associated with unhealthy behaviour, mental problems and poor cognitive performance. Lonely individuals also report more pessimistic judgements and feel more threatened by life situations compared to their ‘non-lonely’ counterparts. Moreover, in an ever more connected world, lonely and socially isolated people face the potential double penalty of suffering from poorer health conditions and being stigmatised as socially inept.

The Culture on Prescription project plans to rely on these findings but will choose an adapted approach by introducing cultural activities – facilitated by adult education – to reach its objectives. As lonely people are often not easy to address, the project partnership will create local networks with organizations in touch with the target group, primarily from the social and health care sector. A “prescription” will be issued that entitles them to a free educational offer building on their talents and strengths without labelling them as deficient or needy. Further support mechanisms in response to their specific needs will be developed in the course of the project.

The Culture on Prescription project will help give people ownership of their health outcomes and builds on harnessing existing resources in the community so it is also of benefit to service providers. The Culture on Prescription project uses an approach that moves from traditional methods of medicating individuals to giving people a sense of connection and belonging, which can be of enormous benefit to their physical health. It is a system where the focus is on health rather than illness.

The Culture on Prescription project also promotes shared learning. Good health is determined by the context of where one lives, environment, work, and opportunities to engage in their community, so the concept of a social network is essential to people’s health and harnessing existing community resources to improve health outcomes benefit everyone and increase their social capital. Besides addressing the needs of persons suffering from loneliness and other stress-causing factors, we see the need for measures that facilitate their support:

  • More knowledge on Social Prescribing concepts is needed in most parts of the European Union as respective approaches are to date mostly implemented in anglophone countries.
  • More practical knowledge is needed to create promoting framework conditions for the establishment of Social and Cultural Prescribing schemes.
  • Educational concepts and tools are needed that facilitate the introduction of such prescribing schemes in the areas of social and healthcare.


We consider that Cultural Prescribing combined with adult education offers especially effective in individual health promotion – as both unlock creative potentials and take place in a community of learners – we want to contribute to spreading the approach among all parties concerned. Concretely, we aim at:

  • Introducing cultural activities facilitated by adult education.
  • Creating local networks with organizations in contact with the target group, mainly from the social and health sectors.
  • Combining culture and health promotion in adult education.
  • Reducing social exclusion and loneliness among socially vulnerable groups such as older adults, people living alone and people with mental health problems.

AFE Related Topics

☐ Outdoor spaces and buildings
Social participation
☐ Transport and mobility
Social inclusion and non-discrimination
☐ Housing
☐ Civic engagement and employment
☐ Communication and information
Community and health services

Target group

People who are lonely or feel lonely, such as:

  • Older adults
  • People living alone
  • People with mental health issues
  • People at risk of social exclusion


  • Coordinator: ISIS, Institut für Soziale Infrastruktur GmbH (Germany)
  • GA-FFM, Gesundheitsamt Frankfurt (Germany)
  • DCU, Dublin City University (Ireland)
  • EAEA, European Association for the Education of Adults (Belgium)
  • SHINE2Europe, LDA (Portugal)
  • Asociatia Grupul de Educatie si Actiune pentru Cetatenie (Romania)
  • AFEdemy, Academy on Age-Friendly Environments in Europe BV (The Netherlands)

Workplan “Culture on Prescription”

  • We will start by collating knowledge on the impact of Social and Cultural Prescribing schemes and examples of good practice through desk research and interviews. The results will be analysed, documented and published in form of a compendium designed to reach a broad public.
  • The consortium members (Dublin, Amsterdam, Bucharest, Frankfurt, Coimbra) will design courses that fit the local situation and circumstances together with the local network that is able to reach lonely or socially excluded people.
  • “Culture on Prescription” will be offered, making it clear that this is not a medical treatment but a voucher for a free educational offer aiming at developing their cultural strengths and talents.
  • The courses will have a duration 5 to 6 months. Before and during the course, methods and tools will be developed, tested and assessed by both learners and tutors.
  • These results will be assembled in form of a toolkit and published on an interactive learning platform, offering the possibility for mutual support and exchange.
  • Besides the assessment of the project results, the learners will also assess the impacts of the activities on their well-being.
  • Based on the experiences gained during the pilot training, targeted recommendations will be developed to decision-makers for the promotion of Social and Cultural prescribing schemes in general and the Culture on Prescription course in particular.
  • The involved associations and responsible persons in the municipalities will be given a voice through a survey inspired by the Delphi method.


Horizontal tasks accompanying the whole process of the implementation of pilot courses and the delivery of results embrace:

  • Project management and coordination, including regular communication among partners and the promotion of an open, outcome-oriented working atmosphere;
  • Quality assurance by peer reviews, the feedback of learners at the end of the courses and other measures specified in a quality plan;
  • Sharing and promotion activities by all project partners at local, regional, national and European levels to reach out to relevant stakeholders as well as the interested public under the leadership of a dissemination manager according to a sharing and promotion plan.

Project results

Four project results will be elaborated in the project:

  • Culture on Prescription Compendium: The Culture on Prescription compendium addresses our primary target groups: stakeholders in the social and healthcare sector, including associations of seniors, formal and informal carers, volunteers, assistants and paid staff. It will be based on desk research on cultural activities in health promotion and stakeholder interviews in each of the participating countries.
  • Culture on Prescription Interactive learning platform: The primary target group of the interactive learning platform will be facilitators who are running Culture on Prescription courses during the lifetime of the project and beyond. They will be provided with materials and tools that are developed during the project.
  • Culture on Prescription Training kit: The toolkit is directed at volunteers or staff interested in running Culture on Prescription courses. They will find helpful information and guidance for working with learners in the cultural sector. The training kit will be the result of local educational offers that are piloted as innovative approaches in five countries.
  • Culture on Prescription Recommendations for decision-makers in municipalities and associations: The recommendations will be available as brochure and PDF download and targeting the information needs of policy-makers, responsible persons in local, regional and national administrations, members of senior councils, other lobby groups of seniors as well as relevant associations.

Other project results



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