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Getting creative with the Memory Assessment and Management Services

Posted: 19/12/19

Patients and staff at the Memory Assessment and Management Service (MAMS) have been getting creative thanks to an exciting project.

The Getting Creative group began in April and has seen patients, their families and carers turn their hand to a number of different artistic activities, including print making, ceramics, poetry and glass.

Funded by the Health Foundation’s Innovating for Improvement programme, the project was made up of three different cohorts, the last of which came to an end in November.

Occupational therapists and nurses from Cumbria, Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust (CNTW) joined forces with creative charity Equal Arts to run the sessions. Equal Arts works to improve the lives of older people and those living with dementia through creativity.

The groups met at the Campus of Ageing and Vitality in Newcastle for a range of arts and creative activities ran by professional artists. A variety of artistic approaches were used to communicate thoughts and feelings through visual arts and creative writing.

Jeni McAuley, Specialist Occupational Therapist at CNTW, said: “The Getting Creative group has been a great help to both patients and carers. It has given carers some time and support and something relaxing to do for their own wellbeing, while it has enabled patients to express themselves in a creative way.”

Patients were able to produce something they were proud of despite their diagnosis or memory problems. The sessions have also helped with communication skills as they were able to go home and tell their families what they had made in the sessions.

Dr Charlotte Allan, Consultant Psychiatrist at CNTW, said: “The response from the project has been really positive. It has been fantastic in supporting the wellbeing of patients, carers and staff and has enabled staff to find new ways of engaging with patients.”

The final session saw the group reading poetry they had written and making Christmas decorations. It was a relaxing atmosphere, with one group member saying Fridays would never be the same again without the group.

Another group member said: “I look forward to every Friday afternoon and tick off the days on my calendar.”

Jeni added: “There has been a lot of fun and laughter and nobody was put under any pressure to produce anything. It’s been a lovely group and we hope that it can continue in some shape of form.”

The MAMS team are planning on holding an exhibition of the artwork in the new year.

Alongside the creative sessions for patients, staff have also been taking part in wellbeing sessions. These sessions have been an opportunity for staff to take a short break from their roles and engage in artistic activities, promoting wellbeing and encouraging creative thinking at work.

The Memory Assessment and Management Service (MAMS) is part of CNTW, a provider of mental health and learning disability services. MAMS is for people of any age who live in Newcastle and parts of North Tyneside who have been referred due to concerns about their memory.

Its work includes assessing and diagnosing memory difficulties, offering support and advice for patients and their families, and providing a range of treatments and interventions.