Creative activities to improve staff wellbeing, quality of care and the way people living with dementia and their carers support their own health

Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust

This project will run from April 2019 to March 2020.

  • Project led by Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust, in partnership with Equal Arts, a charity providing arts and creative activities for older people and those living with dementia.
  • Aiming to use creative activities to make a positive contribution to the health and wellbeing of staff and people with dementia.
  • Will develop support groups for NHS patients newly diagnosed with dementia, offering creative approaches led by professional artists.

Dementia affects one in 14 people over the age of 65, and one in six people over 80. The Newcastle Memory Assessment and Management Service receives 80–100 referrals per month, and approximately 60% of patients are diagnosed with dementia. 

Creative activities are helpful interventions within dementia care, with patients showing improved cognitive processes, attention, stimulation of memories and enhanced communication with carers. 

This project will introduce creative, arts-based interventions into the Newcastle Memory Assessment and Management Service. This will not only benefit patients, but will also be used to support staff well-being and help maintain optimism and resilience despite the high volume of referrals.

The charity Equal Arts will provide training to staff using an Imagination Model, which combines an understanding of their own creativity with how important it can be for people with dementia. Taking part in the training and delivering these approaches can help staff seek new ways to communicate and engage with patients, adding value to their professional lives, and helping them serve their patients better.

Equal Arts will also work with staff, patients and carers to implement a series of patient support groups, led by professional artists who specialise in delivery of programmes with older people. A variety of creative and artistic approaches will be used to communicate thoughts and feelings, through visual arts, creative writing and multi-sensory artistic methods.

The collaboration between a charity and an NHS memory clinic has the potential to benefit a large number of patients who are at an early stage in their dementia journey.

Contact information

For more information about this project, please contact Dr Charlotte Allan, Consultant Old Age Psychiatrist, Memory Assessment and Management Service, Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust.

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