ArtsPAL (Preserve Active Life)

Empowering individuals with a dementia to thrive – through shared creative interests

To support social prescribing for dementia (SP), prevent loneliness and preserve resilience in the community, Arts 4 Dementia proposes to co-ordinate a volunteer creative befriender network for individuals with early symptoms of dementia.

Arts-loving companions would enable access to weekly stimulation at arts venues, 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 would accompany each other to weekly arts and heritage activities.


The Secretary of State for Health and Social Care Matt Hancock, having recently announced a new National Academy for Social Prescribing, recommends 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. 

Some arts for health organisations offer creative befriender services, but 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.

ArtsPALs aim 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?

  • Individuals with early symptoms of a dementia for mutual support, or older people making use of their lifetime experiences as volunteers
  • Arts facilitators and postgraduate arts students consolidating dementia awareness training
  • Museum, Art Fund, National Trust volunteers, Culture Champions
  • Creative and cultural companions/befrienders trained by existing organisations
  • NHS Health Champions, Royal Volunteer Service
  • Arts-loving people whose spouses have died of a dementia


Our goal is to work as a consortium 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 Roundtable, hosted by The University of Westminster, 14 March 2019

At the invitation of Dr Marie Polley, Co-Chair of the Social Prescribing Network, a steering group will meet to commence dialogue, discuss strategy, challenges, barriers, the best way forward, raising awareness of existing services and a potential pilot study for evaluation. The initial outcome, a preliminary 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).

Launch 2019

  • Volunteer week (April)
  • Age of Creativity (UK) Luminate (Scotland), Bealtine (Ireland) festivals, May
  • Paper at Arts 4 Dementia Social Prescribing Conference (Wellcome Collection, Thursday 16 May).
  • Dementia Action Week in Monday 21 May – Sunday 27 May
  • Carers Week Monday 10 June – Sunday 16 June .