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Why Arts? Good Practice and Evidence

There is now a wealth of evidence that arts activity really benefits both those cared for and the carers themselves, and improves wellbeing and health outcomes across care settings.

Here are some useful and inspirational examples of evidence and good practice in this field.

Older Men Moving  (Feb 2015)
In 2013, Green Candle Dance Company were awarded an ‘innovation bursary’ by Tower Hamlets Clinical Commissioning Group to start a new project called Older Men Moving, which initiated an intercultural dance class for overlooked groups of disadvantaged men. Over 9 months, three groups of men each participated in 30 workshops. Before and after the course all of the groups went through a series of physical tests; it was found that the course was extremely successful in improving the men’s health. The course leader stated that, “Over the sessions… you see them getting stronger and stronger.” Not only that, but, “you see them all come together.” He saw that the men were not only stronger physically, but mentally and socially as well. See: 

Reawakening the Mind, London Arts Challenge (2012-13 )
Reports on 17 different London area arts & health programmes and their impact on people with early and middle stage dementia, their carers and the institutions that sponsored the programmes. Largest scale programme of its kind worldwide, which occurred throughout 2012 and ended in March 2013. The results have important implications for involving the participatory arts in supporting the wellbeing of people with a dementia and carers for NHS trusts, social care and charities. Dr. Paul M. Camic, professor of psychology & public health, Dept of Applied Psychology, Canterbury Christ Church University was the lead evaluation consultant. Funded through the Baring Foundation and the Rayne Foundation.

After You Are Two: exemplary practice in participatory arts with older people, by Kate Organ.
Based on visits to a wide range of projects funded by the Baring Foundation, Arts Adviser Kate Organ has sought to distil what is important in working with older people and the significance it has for an artist's own practice. She asks: is the process as important as the product? What is the relationship of reminiscence and life story work to arts in older age? What role does participatory arts with older people have in the wider public realm? Who is in control - the artist or the participant? Is it useful to think of a field of practice that specialises in Arts and Older People? A highly recommended, interesting read.

'Alive Inside': how music can reawaken Alzheimer's patients.
Seniors with iPods regain their past after listening to their favorite music. The documentary film, produced and directed by Michael Rossato-Bennett, follows social worker Dan Cohen as he exposes dementia care patients to music and watches them reawaken. Read more and see some powerful clips here:

Tackling Loneliness, a role for the arts
The Baring Foundation and the Campaign to End Loneliness have come together to promote the case for the arts as a powerful tool to tackle the scourge of loneliness among older people:

Creative Care homes(Nov 2011)
This is a joint publication from partners NCF (the National Care Forum - the umbrella body for not for profit care providers) and NAPA (the National Association for Providers of Activities for Older People). It is intended to celebrate existing good practice in the use of the arts with and for older people in residential care and to inspire more and better work.

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