Community Arts Partnership launches Community Arts and Dementia
The Community Arts Partnership, the organisation at the forefront of the promotion, development and delivery of community arts practice in Northern Ireland, unveiled a new report last week, “Community Arts and Dementia” at the Belfast Trust’s supported housing facility, Hemsworth Court.
The report, funded by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, emerged from evaluative processes applied to community arts projects, facilitated by the Community Arts Partnership, working with older people experiencing Dementia between 2010 and 2013.The report incorporated information from professionals working in both community arts and the health profession to add a wider context for the work.
Primarily the report suggests that a consistent community arts approach, offering opportunities for participants experiencing Dementia to make decisions about their creative lives as autonomously as possible, provides a pathway for those with Dementia to maintain connectivity to the world around them as well as stimulating “cognitive, physical, psychosocial and spiritual well-being.”
Given the increase in the number of people experiencing Dementia, government reports suggest upwards of 60,000 people will be diagnosed with Dementia by 2051, this report will be of benefit to organisations and individuals, community and community arts organisations, arts professionals, healthcare providers and anyone seeking to support their work with qualitative as well as quantitative evidence taken from work in the field.
Conor Shields, Community Arts Partnership’s Chief Executive said,
“As community arts practitioners we know that the practice of community arts can help our society creatively, culturally, socially and economically. Our research shows that any community arts practice, properly applied, enables older people to reconnect with the intrinsic artistic abilities which we all share. This in turn can help mitigate some of the isolating aspects of life with Dementia and improve health and well-being generally. Seeing smiles of delight and witnessing the joy of real creative achievement brings rewards for a wider community as well.
Bob Collins, Chairman of the Arts Council, said:
“It was important to the Arts Council to support this key research through our Arts & Older People’s programme, because we recognise that we live in an ageing society in which dementia increasingly affects so many of our lives, directly and indirectly. The evidence indicates that the arts offer tangible health benefits to people suffering with dementia, including unlocking memory and alleviating depression and anxiety. This research by the Community Arts Partnership now shows us how active engagement in participatory arts can also address related issues such as isolation and provide a sympathetic, stimulating and inclusive environment that can make a meaningful contribution to improving quality of life, socially and creatively, as well as medically.”