ArtsPAL (Preserve Active Life)
Empowering individuals with a dementia to thrive – through shared creative interests
Arts 4 Dementia is co-ordinating a network of volunteer cultural and creative befriender organisations to support social prescribing [SP] for people living alone, as post-diagnostic support for dementia. Enabling access to weekly stimulation at arts venues, an ArtsPAL will help combat loneliness and preserve resilience in the community for longer. Matched by shared interests through NHS primary care navigators, SP linkworkers, memory services, DAA, community navigators, arts and health organisations, ArtsPALs will accompany each other to weekly arts and heritage activities.
225,000 people are diagnosed with dementia each year. A dementia diagnosis has a devastating impact on them and their families. One-third live alone. The Secretary of State for Health and Social Care Matt Hancock, having announced a new National Academy for Social Prescribing, calls for arts activities for dementia.
Using an individual’s interests, SP can direct them to local arts and wellbeing opportunities. However, for people living alone, anxiety, travel and the initiative to leave home can prove a challenge.
While some arts for health organisations offer creative befriender services, more are needed. Volunteer befriending services for dementia are often offered further down the line as home visits.
Help is needed at the outset of symptoms – confusion, stress, anxiety, disorientation etc. An ArtsPAL enthusiast to share weekly activities of interest to them both would preserve life in the community despite dementia and provide effective pre- and post-diagnostic support.
ArtsPAL aims to help overcome dementia challenges and loneliness, restore a sense of purpose and revive access to inspirational events of interest to both ArtsPALs.
Who can be an ArtsPAL?
- Postgraduate arts and medical students to consolidate dementia training, for whom deeper understanding of their ArtsPAL’s challenges and existing skills benefits academic dissertations
- Arts facilitators consolidating dementia awareness training
- Individuals with early symptoms of a dementia for mutual support
- Creative and cultural companions/befrienders trained by existing organisations
- Museum, Art Fund, National Trust volunteers, Culture Champions
- NHS Health Champions, arts-loving dementia champions and Alzheimer’s Society Side-by-Side, AgeUK befrienders
- Arts-loving people whose spouses have died of a dementia
Our goal is to work as a network of befriending organisations supporting cultural wellbeing activity, initially focussing on early-stage dementia, but in due course open to all needs, with a dedicated website. In the first instance this web-page will link to ArtsPAL partners.
Like NHS toolkits, dementia directories, meeting centres, memory and support hubs, this would signpost to local befriender organisations with whom ArtsPALs register, to be recommended to individuals during assessment for dementia and as post-diagnostic support.
We aim to ensure that the project creates the best opportunities through SP, from the first symptoms of a dementia, effective and ongoing diversion during the loss-focussed assent process so as to ease the shock of diagnosis and help override symptoms.
Social Prescribing Day Roundtables 2019
At the invitation of Dr Marie Polley, Co-Chair of the Social Prescribing Network, a steering group met at the University of Westminster to commence dialogue, discuss strategy, challenges, barriers, the best way forward, raising awareness of existing services and a potential pilot study for evaluation. Priorities raised at the meeting were postgraduate development, training, transport and joined up services.
On Wednesday 1 May, an ArtsPAL roundtable will take place at Manchester Museum, hosted by Wendy Gallagher, Arts & Health Partnership Manager at The Whitworth and Manchester Museum, University of Manchester. A paper will be presented at the Arts 4 Dementia Best Practice Conference “Towards Social Prescribing (Arts & Heritage) for Dementia” (Wellcome Collection, Thursday 16 May 2019).
- University of Westminster, Social Prescribing Day, 14 March.
- The Whitworth, Manchester, Wednesday 1 May.
- Arts 4 Dementia Social Prescribing Conference (Wellcome Collection, Thursday 16 May).
- Dementia Action Week in Monday 21 May – Sunday 27 May
- UK Dementia Congress, November
If you would like to join the ArtsPAL Network, you may be interested to complete this creative befriender survey