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International speakers attend ‘The Art of Caring’ Conference in Belfast

Wednesday 26th April 2017 at 8am 0 Comments Arts and Older People

John Edmund Chair of the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, with David Cutler,The Baring Foundation at the Arts Council's 'Art of Caring' conference, funded by the National Lottery. Image: John Edmund Chair of the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, with David Cutler,The Baring Foundation at the Arts Council's 'Art of Caring' conference, funded by the National Lottery.

Speakers from across Europe, England, Wales and Northern Ireland are today, Wednesday 26 April 2017, gathering at Cultra Manor to explore the benefits the arts can bring to older people through caring.

Organised by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, ‘The Art of Caring’ conference will explore excellence in caring and bring together those working in a care setting with local and international projects and collaborations to look at ways of embedding arts into every day care.

Lorraine Calderwood, Community Development Officer at the Arts Council, explained how the conference is focused on bringing art into everyday care experiences, saying;

“The links between engagement in the arts and improved personal wellbeing are now well established. The Arts Council’s pioneering Arts & Older People Programme, funded by the National Lottery, has evidenced just how successful the arts are in making a positive impact on our older people. Today’s conference brings together experts in caring from Northern Ireland, Europe and Britain and is aimed at sharing knowledge and encouraging excellent practise.  We hope today provides opportunities for those in the field of care to embrace the arts as a beneficial part of their caring practice and embed arts and wellbeing into their everyday working”.

Award winning ‘Hen Power’ from Gateshead is one of the participating speakers on the day.  The project which initially started with a handful of hens in one care home in the North of England, has become so popular it received £1m of funding support to roll out across over 40 residential and care homes in England.  The project also works with schools and undertakes hen roadshows into the community, and has set up engagement with hen based projects as far away as Australia!

Commenting on their participation at ‘The Art of Caring’ conference, Jos Forester-Melville, Hen Power Co-ordinator, said;

“We are delighted to be bringing this project, complete with hens and ‘hensioners’ to today’s conference.  HenPower is an inspiring project working with older people, equipping them with the skills and knowledge to become hen keepers in residential and dementia care settings. Now in more than 40 care homes, HenPower creatively hengages older people in arts activities and hen-keeping to promote health and wellbeing and reduce loneliness.  Our project cultivates creativity in care settings at a time in life when most people are slowing down, and not stepping into wellies or making masterpieces.  We are hoping today’s conference allows us to share and enthuse those working in the care setting to consider exploring how they too can use hens to engage their older people here, and we have brought the hens along too!.”

Other speakers include Professor Paul Camic, Research Director for Salomon’s Centre for Applied Psychology, Canterbury Christ Church University who will explore
Caring for Carers: A framework for caring communities & the arts; and from the City of Helsinki, representatives from the Cultural Office & Social Services and Health Care Department will address arts-based elderly care, and their alternative approach to developing a better future for the elderly in Helsinki.  Locally the award winning Hemsworth Court in Belfast, will present on the benefits of a community based approach to carting for people with Dementia with dignity. 

In the afternoon speakers from Age Cymru will share their experience of delivering over 1000 art based successes in Wales, and Equal Arts from England will speak on how to create arts for an aging network, and the role of imagination in bringing care and arts together for the elderly.  Alongside a series of workshops for carers on the art of caring will be delivered.

The Art of Caring’ conference forms part of the Arts Council of Northern Ireland’s Arts and Older People’s Programme funded by the National Lottery.  This pioneering, Northern Ireland-wide programme was established in partnership initially with Atlantic Philanthropies and subsequently the Public Health Agency and the Baring Foundation.  The aim was to increase opportunities for older people to actively engage in the arts. It is about challenging perceptions of what it means to be an older person, providing opportunities to participate in a full range of creative activities.

The Arts and Older People Programme provides opportunities for people to engage with the arts, promoting positive mental health and well-being and helping to tackle issues like loneliness and isolation affecting our older citizens. The programme of investment is supported by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland National Lottery fund and the Public Health Agency. 

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 19,000 older people have participated in a variety of projects, from ceramics to dance and music.  Last month, the Arts Council announced £160,000 funding to 20 projects across the region which are now underway delivering arts and engagement experiences for older people.

Follow the conference on Twitter using the #ArtofCaringNI 

For more information on the Arts & Older People programme click here.



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