Getting Creative: Activities to improve wellbeing for people living with dementia, their care-givers and clinicians Cumbria, Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust
- Led by Cumbria, Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust (CNTW) in partnership with Equal Arts, a charity providing arts and creative activities for older people and those living with dementia.
- Used creative activities to make a positive contribution to the health and wellbeing of people with dementia, their care-givers and staff at a Newcastle NHS memory clinic.
- Developed patient and staff support groups led by professional artists to successfully embed arts-based activities into the post-diagnostic dementia care pathway.
- Delivered between March 2019 and February 2020.
Creative activities have been shown to improve wellbeing and reduce stress in people with dementia and in their care-givers, but are not currently commissioned as a core part of NHS memory services.
This project from CNTW developed a new, innovative partnership between an NHS memory clinic and a local creative ageing charity, Equal Arts, to introduce arts-based activities into the clinical pathway for people in the early stages of dementia.
A series of three ‘Creative Age’ groups for patients and carers at Newcastle Memory Assessment and Management Service (MAMS) were held over a 12-month period. Each eight-week group was co-led by professional artists and clinical staff, with activities themed around creative language, print-making, working with clay and glass-work.
The intervention developed a new paradigm for patients and care-givers, where living with dementia could be viewed positively. Participants were relaxed and had pride in their creations, leading to increased wellbeing and confidence. Peer-to-peer connections reduced loneliness and isolation.
Memory clinic staff took part in six parallel sessions using activities that mirrored the patient groups. These were filled with laughter and enjoyment, leading to feelings of optimism, belonging and competence. Staff strengthened working relationships and discussed ways to improve communication and engagement with patients.
Challenges, such as understanding the cultures of different organisations, were overcome through shared commitment to improving dementia care, regular dialogue and appreciation of the expertise and talents of different professionals.
This project successfully embedded creative activities early on in the post-diagnostic dementia care pathway and equipped staff with the skills, experience and enthusiasm to ensure sustainability of creative groups both within and beyond MAMS.
For more information about this project, please contact Dr Charlotte Allan, Consultant Old Age Psychiatrist, Memory Assessment and Management Service, Cumbria, Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust.