Dementia and the arts: Arts Council conference highlights benefits of the arts for older people
Keynote speaker, Professor Sebastian Crutch, a leading neuropsychologist in the Dementia Research Centre of University College London, joined other expert speakers at Cultra Manor yesterday (17 April) to explore the many benefits the arts can bring to older people with dementia.
Organised by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, ‘The Art and Dementia’ conference brought together policy makers, health agencies, artists and those working with older people in care settings, with the aim of sharing knowledge and best practice of using the arts as a tool to benefit the health and well-being of older people with dementia.
Lorraine Calderwood, Arts & Older People Programme, Arts Council of Northern Ireland , added, “The Arts & Older People Programme has evidenced just how successful the arts are in making a positive impact on the lives of our older people and the links between engagement in the arts and improved wellbeing are now well established. Today’s conference is aimed at sharing knowledge and encouraging best practice of using the arts as a tool in improving the wellbeing of older people with dementia. We hope today provides opportunities for those in the field of care to embrace the arts as an essential element of their caring policies and everyday working.”
Other speakers on the day included Una Lynch, Sonrisa Solutions and Public Health Researcher and Jan Carson, novelist and project facilitator for older people projects.
In the afternoon speakers from Arts Care shared their experience of delivering art based projects for older people in hospitals and care settings across Northern Ireland. Writer, Jan Carson also hosted a session on how to deliver a workshop for older people and the role of imagination in bringing care and arts together for the elderly. Participants from the Derry City & Strabane District Council’s Music to Your Ears Arts & Older People Project also performed for guests.
The Art and Dementia Conference is presented as part of the wider Arts & Older People Programme, a pioneering initiative established by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland and supported by the Public Health Agency and Baring Foundation, which provides opportunities for older people to participate in the arts to promote wellbeing and explore the social issues affecting them, such as poverty, isolation and loneliness.
The original Arts & Older People Programme was set up in 2010 to increase opportunities for older people to engage with the arts. Since then over 21,500 older people have participated in a variety of projects, from ceramics to dance and music.