About the project

Observing art and making art seems to make a difference. That's what we're hearing from studies of people with dementia and their carers in a number of different countries.

We want to find out whether art really can make a difference.

Can it improve quality of life and well being? Might it even have wider social and community benefits? And if it does make a difference, how does it do this - and why?

Dementia Friendly Community initiatives are springing up across the UK.

They aim to help people with dementia reconnect with their communities - instead of becoming increasingly isolated.

They also aim to challenge the stereotypes which limit the potential of people with dementia to enjoy and contribute to life in the community.

That's one reason why there's a strong community dimension to our project. We want to find out how and why art seems to help people with dementia. But we also want to explore the wider social and community implications.

The findings from this project are likely to be of interest to:

  • People with dementia and their families

  • Care staff and care homes

  • Health professionals

  • Commissioners of health and social care

  • Researchers

  • Artists and arts organisations

That's why we've brought together a project team and project partners with an unusually wide range of experience and expertise. From gerontology to health economics, art to clinical psychology, and from universities, the NHS, local government, the voluntary sector, arts organisations and care homes.

Why the project is important

Tackling dementia is a priority for the NHS. That includes helping people and their carers live well with dementia after diagnosis. That's why I welcome this project. It will help us see what difference art might make in the lives of people with dementia, their carers and their communities. I wonder if this approach may help reduce the stigma still faced by people with dementia and their carers?


Professor Alistair Burns 

National Clinical Director for Dementia in England

Art can make a difference for people with dementia - like a call to the brain, a connection, helping people come alive again. How does it do this? And are there wider economic, social and community implications? At a time when all parties agree dementia is a priority this project is looking for answers to some important questions.


Baroness Sally Greengross

Chair, All Party Parliamentary Group on Dementia

We need to know more about the potential contribution of involvement in the arts for people with dementia – and some 80% of care home residents have dementia. This project is therefore extremely timely. It crosses the traditional boundaries to provide a fresh perspective on well-being, quality of life and the value of art interventions.


Des Kelly OBE  Executive Director

National Care Forum


Art work by people with dementia


Can art improve life for people with dementia and their carers?

If so, how does it do this?

And can it help people with dementia stay connected to their communities?

Can it help their communities become more dementia friendly?

Might there even be financial benefits for the UK?

These are questions we hope to find answers to through our Dementia and Imagination research project.

We'll be looking at how art can make a difference for people with dementia living at home, being assessed by the NHS and living in care homes - and in three different parts of the UK.

This website aims to:

  • Provide information about the Dementia and Imagination research study.
  • Develop as a wider resource for people interested in the potential of art to help people with dementia.


Latest material added to site

Dementia friendly communities

Why Dementia Friendly Communities are needed and how they are developing

13 March 2016 PAGE

Art and dementia

What we can learn from previous research into how the arts in general and art in particular can help people with dementia

13 March 2016 PAGE

Activities and Events

Here we provide example of activities and events which explain and demonstrate the value of our reseach

10 March 2016 PAGE

Creating a Dementia Utopia

What happened when old and young came together to imagine a future Dementia Utopia.

Pictures at an Exhibition

Reflections on an exhibition of art work created by people living with dementia who were attending an NHS assessment unit.

Arts in health

The Arts in Health event at London's Royal Festival Hall


Project partners

Project partners

  • Age Watch
  • Alzheimers Society
  • Arts Council of Wales
  • Arts for Health
  • Baltic
  • Bangor University
  • City University London
  • Denbeighshire Council
  • Derbyshire Community Health Service
  • Engage Cymru
  • Equal Arts
  • Insitute of Mental Health
  • Manchester Metropolitan University
  • Newcastle University
  • Collaboration for Leadership in Applied Health Research and Care East Midlands
  • Nottingham Contemporary
  • Swansea University
  • Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums
  • The University of Southampton
  • The University of Nottingham

Supported by

Arts and Humanities Research Council
Connected Communities