What can we do to reduce the risk of dementia? Where dementia can't be prevented what can we do to maintain quality of life and well being? And what resources are available to help carers? These are questions Age Watch has been asking, as part of its remit to help people live longer, healthier lives.
Age Watch has Information Standard accreditation (NHS England's quality mark for health information providers) and is a member of the national Dementia Action Alliance.
It is contributing to Dementia and Imagination as a member of the management team, with a particular focus on knowledge transfer. This currently includes developing and maintaining the research project website, encouraging broader stakeholder engagement and helping disseminate the findings as widely as possible - so that as many people as possible can benefit.
The Alzheimer's Society aims to lead the fight against dementia - and works to improve the quality of life for people affected by dementia in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
It provides a wide range of information about dementia, for people living with dementia, their carers and health professionals. It funds research into the causes, potential cure, care and prevention. It provides local services and support. And it has a strong policy role.
Perhaps particularly relevant from our perspective is the Society's focus on encouraging Dementia Friendly Communities. The Society is supporting Dementia and Imagination in an advisory capacity and is also considering the role of the arts in Dementia Friendly Communities.
Arts Council Wales
The Arts Council of Wales has been funding and developing work in the field of arts and health and arts for dementia for many years - and has seen how successful this has been in practice. However, it hasn’t always been easy to explain why it is successful and to offer solid academic evaluation of the impact.
The Arts Council Wales therefore welcomes this research, which it sees as being important for public policy planning – to help widen the potential benefits, not only for individuals but for society in general.
The Council is also looking to commit funding for an additional aspect to this proposed research. It hopes to develop, with the research team, a discrete socially engaged, participatory arts project which will use the role of arts and imagination in visualising dementia supportive communities. This will be led by professional artists, focus on a socially excluded community and culminate in a final event at the newly built PONTIO arts and innovation centre in Bangor.
BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art
Housed in a landmark industrial building on the south bank of the River Tyne in Gateshead, BALTIC is a major international centre for contemporary art.
BALTIC will provide access for a group of participants to work in the gallery, providing use of spaces within the gallery and staff time.
BALTIC was involved in the earlier project ‘contemporary visual art and identity construction – wellbeing amongst older people’ and benefitted greatly from the research findings as well as the partnerships which strengthened as the programme developed.
By focusing on the needs of older people when experiencing contemporary visual art in an art gallery, BALTIC is much better equipped to respond to these needs directly. Feedback offered as part of earlier research has already influenced aspects of the visitor experience at BALTIC. For example, older people taking part in workshops at BALTIC fed back how much they valued the interaction with gallery staff. However, they hadn’t felt confident enough to approach them before.
Denbighshire County Council Arts Service and the Ruthin Arts Centre
The Council’s Arts Service has a long track record of delivering arts in health projects and working with community groups. This includes working in partnership with the Dementia Services Development Centre in Lost in Art, a visual arts project for people with dementia and their carers at the Ruthin Craft Centre.
Past projects have shown anecdotal evidence of the health benefits of participating in arts projects. The Arts Service is helping the Dementia and Imagination project, to see if firmer evidence can be found for the value of arts in health projects - through art interventions initially in Rhyl and then in Ruthin and Llangollen.
The Ruthin Craft Centre is a centre for applied arts. It can offer purpose built gallery spaces, an education workshop and the artistic expertise of its staff. The Centre is also keen to develop its outreach work, for example by work in village halls and other community venues.
Derbyshire Community Health Services
Derbyshire Community Health Service (DCHS) is committed to providing the highest quality care and support for people with dementia, which has included investing in the arts.
DCHS views this as a timely and much needed research project, which builds on a growing understanding of the potential of the arts to impact on the wellbeing of people affected by dementia, and the way in which dementia friendly communities can develop and grow.
Having developed a number of arts-based interventions within its Dementia Assessment Unit and other older peoples units, DCHS was keen to contribute to the development of an evidence base and offer broad ranging support for this proposal.
This currently includes access to NHS settings, during occupational therapy time within the specialist units; access to people affected by dementia, their family, friends and carers; and support securing ethical approval for the research.
engage Cymru is the leading membership organisation for gallery education in Wales and has over 70 members, including galley and museum educators, teachers, local authority officers and artists.
Between 2009-2012 engage Cymru ran 11 far-reaching projects across Wales focusing on older people in partnership with local authorities, health boards, care homes and galleries.
The Dementia and Imagination research is of interest and value to engage Cymru in many ways. These include developing an evidence base for encouraging strategic funding for this area of work; adding to the visual arts sector’s professional development in Wales; and helping build the capacity of engage members to deliver meaningful programmes of work for older people with dementia.
Engage welcomes the opportunity to contribute to the project’s development and dissemination of its findings.
Equal Arts is a registered charity with 25 years experience delivering arts and older people’s projects. It aims to improve the quality of people’s lives by helping older people participate in high quality arts activity.
To achieve this Equal Arts works with professional artists in partnership with residential care homes, sheltered accommodation schemes, GPs and hospitals, community venues, arts and cultural venues, local authorities and a range of older people’s organisations.
It has also developed the Arts & Dementia Network to champion the role of the arts in dementia care and support artists and health and social care professionals working in the field.
Equal Arts is drawing on this range of experience to help with Dementia and Imagination, through art interventions in a number of care homes in the North East.
National Institute for Health Research CLAHRC
Collaboration for Leadership in Applied Health Research and Care (CLAHRC) is a collaboration of multiple partners across health and social care. It aims to speed up the process of getting research into practice, and developing the capacity of the NHS to engage with research.
The CLAHRC ─ Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire and Lincolnshire (CLAHRC NDL - now CLAHRC East Midlands) is a collaboration between The University of Nottingham, nine NHS Trusts, NHS East Midlands and a local authority. It has already supported the early stages of Dementia and Imagination with funding for a stakeholder engagement event, and will continue to provide in-house support for the project as it develops.
CLAHRC NDL will help particularly with the dissemination of findings from the research. This will include providing design advice and support for the dissemination of the findings through BITEs (Brokering Innovation Through Evidence) – ‘need to know’ academic findings packaged for clinical and lay audiences.
CLAHRC NDL will also assist with engaging health and social care commissioners – and with wider dissemination of findings through our social media (as the most followed CLAHRC on Twitter).
Nottingham Contemporary is one of the largest contemporary arts centres in the UK, with a total floor area of 3,000sq metres. Its remit values pioneering work, exploring the value of art interventions with specific communities.
In a society with an increasing elderly population Nottingham Contemporary is particularly committed to supporting research into the benefits of artistic interventions for people with dementia. For example its Viewing Together project in 2012 was part of a joint study between Dulwich Picture Gallery, Canterbury Christ Church University and the University of Nottingham Medical School. The project consisted of artist-led workshops at the gallery and aimed to explore the impact of viewing and making art on people with mild to moderate dementia and their carers.
Nottingham Contemporary’s contribution to the research project includes delivering artist-led workshops in an NHS dementia assessment unit in Derbyshire.
Tyne & Wear Archives and Museums
Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums (TWAM) is committed to ensuring that its venues are accessible to all and that it makes its collections available to help make a difference in people's lives. TWAM have done significant work with active third age people and those suffering from various stages of dementia, in partnership with a number of organisations in the region and have seen the benefits that engagement with museum and culture can bring.
TWAM is particularly excited by Dementia and Imagination’s approach of bringing together a combination of science and humanities approaches to address some of the problems of evidence. As a practical expression of its support TWAM will provide access for to the Hatton Gallery for a group of people with dementia for a total of 24 visits.