Newcastle memory clinic receives new grant for creative arts activities to support people living with dementia

Posted: 24/01/19

Previous Equal Arts project - credit Equal Arts / David Charlton photography

A Newcastle NHS service for people living with dementia has been awarded funding to provide dedicated arts and creative activities led by professional artists to improve the health and wellbeing of its patients.

The project runs for 15 months from January 2019 and sees Newcastle’s Memory Assessment and Management Service receive up to £75,000 of funding to support a series of creative, arts-based interventions for patients and staff.

We are very excited to be working with the Health Foundation, and the charity Equal Arts, on such an innovative project. We are looking forward to using creative, arts-based activities to support staff wellbeing and extend this to our patients and their carers.

Dr Charlotte AllanConsultant Psychiatrist, Newcastle Memory Assessment and Management Service

The Memory Assessment and Management Service is based at the Centre for the Health of the Elderly in Newcastle, and is for people of any age who have been referred by their GP or another hospital specialist due to concerns about their memory.

The service is part of Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust (NTW), a provider of mental health and disability services across the North East. 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 including working with other specialists and services.

The project is being delivered in partnership with Gateshead-based creative ageing charity Equal Arts, who will work with NTW staff, patients and carers to deliver a series of patient support groups led by professional artists who specialise in working with older people.

Each support group will use a variety of creative and artistic approaches to communicate thoughts and feelings through visual arts, creative writing and multisensory artistic methods.

The project also includes dedicated staff training from Equal Arts using an ‘Imagination Model’, which combines an understanding of their own creativity with how important this can be for people living with dementia. The training will help staff seek new ways to communicate and engage with patients, adding value to their professional lives, and helping them serve their patients better.

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.

The funding is part of Innovating for Improvement, a programme delivered by the Health Foundation, an independent charity which aims to test and develop innovative ideas and approaches to improve both health and social care delivery and the way people manage their own health care in the UK.

We are delighted to be working with the clinic on this innovative project, bringing the benefits of creativity to all involved. We know our sessions, led by professional artists, will support patients and staff to use creativity to communicate and improve wellbeing.

Alice ThwaiteCo-director of Equal Arts

We’re excited to support this project, one of twenty-three that have been developed by frontline teams to improve health and social care across the UK. We are looking forward to working with the teams to develop their innovative ideas, put them into practice, and gather evidence about how their projects are improving care for patients.

Sarah HendersonAssistant Director of Improvement Programmes at the Health Foundation

You can find out more about the Memory Assessment and Management Service on NTW’s website.

More information on NTW’s funding grant is available on the Health Foundation website.

Find out more about Equal Arts on their website.

Image Credit: Equal Arts / David Charlton Photography