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Arts & Health

The Arts for Health Partnership Programme is based in West Cork and provides a managed and integrated arts programme for older people in healthcare settings. It takes place in five Community Hospitals, five Day Care Centres and Bantry General Hospital Care of the Elderly Unit. The partners are West Cork Arts Centre, Cork County Council, Cork Education and Training Board and the HSE. The HSE is represented through the Cork Arts + Health Programme, the Health Promotion Department, the Nursing Directors of Community Hospitals and the Day Care Centres, West Cork.

Today it is widely recognised that participation in arts activities contributes to health and well-being. Research from many different parts of the world demonstrates the crucial importance for older people of maintaining a connected social network and the need for stimulating, challenging creative activity to combat cognitive decline, poor health and even premature mortality. Experience and research gained in healthcare centres in many parts of the world also demonstrate that arts in healthcare programmes can be cost-effective in reducing demand on medical resources and infrastructure.

Aim and Purpose of Arts for Health 
The purpose and aim of introducing the arts into health care settings is first and foremost for the benefit of the users of the hospital. In May 2005, a one-year arts programme and action research project was implemented in the 5 Community Hospitals in the West Cork region, Skibbereen, Schull, Dunmanway, Clonakilty and Castletownbere. It examined the feasibility of supporting access to and engagement with the arts for older people in this context through having a dedicated post administered by West Cork Arts Centre and supported by an Advisory Committee. The programme was evaluated by an external evaluator to examine the effects on the participants of involvement in a long-term developmental arts programme.

The evaluation Conversations in Colour (PDF 1.5MB) was published in May 2007 and a hard copy be obtained through West Cork Arts Centre.

Arts for Health Partnership 
The Arts for Health partnership (WCAC, CCC, HSESA, WCAES, WCCH) continues its work on developing policy and supporting the implementation of an appropriate, developmental and quality Arts Programme based on the findings of the ongoing research. The make-up of the Advisory Committee demonstrates the commitment of locally-based arts / health / education and community-based organisations to this programme and includes Justine Foster, (Education and Community Co-ordinator, WCAC), Ian McDonagh (Cork County Arts Officer), Teresa O'Sullivan (West Cork VEC), Carol McCann (HSE Director of Nursing: Community Hospital), Patrick Ryan (HSE Acting Director of Nursing: Community Hospital), Violet Hayes, (HSE West Cork Director of Public Nursing, West Cork ), Aidan Warner (HSE Cork Arts+Health Programme, Principal Community Worker).

To get some further information, please have a look at our partners' websites:

* Cork County Council - Arts Office 

Arts for Health Strategy

What is the Arts for Health Partnership programme all about?

Click this link to find out and see a 4 minute animated film by filmmaker Jane Lee.

Arts for Health, an arts programme taking place in Community Hospitals and Day Care Centres throughout West Cork, and managed by West Cork Arts Centre (WCAC), celebrated the launch of its three year strategy at an event in Clonakilty Community Hospital in December 2013.

The strategy was officially launched by guest speaker Gabrielle O’Keefe, General Manager, HSE Cork who, on behalf of the HSE, stated that she was 'pleased to be able to continue to support the project financially, in conjunction with the partners' as 'It has become an integral part of the health and social care environment for older people’.

Attending this event were senior figures from each of the partner agencies who also spoke of their support for this groundbreaking programme, which is set to continue to deliver quality arts experiences to over 400 older people in 11 locations in West Cork and to continue to employ at least 10 artists and musicians over the next 3 years.

The strategy sets out its aims for the period of 2013-2016. With life expectancy in our society continuing to increase and more than 12% of our population over the age of 65, this programme is a positive action in response to these changes. The strategy in summary, includes maintaining the existing levels of service, responding to the changing needs of its service users, to support excellence through on-going competency development and maintaining and improving communications and advocacy.

Of the Arts for Health Programme, Cork County Council Arts Officer, Ian McDonagh observed that it helps to ‘shape a dynamic programme that enhances the lives of older people involved in the programme. The work done by Arts for Health has in turn helped to shape arts policy in Cork County Council and is now regarded as an excellent model of arts development, nationally.’

Ann O’Connor, Arts and Health Advisor to the Arts Council of Ireland commended the work of West Cork Arts Centre for coordinating the programme, in particular the work of Justine Foster, WCAC, Arts for Health Coordinator. Highlighting the uniqueness of the programme, she identified ‘The arts expertise and the coordination role is a marker for success’. Of the project as a whole, she praised the impact the programme will have on care settings nationally,‘You’re making it work! It’s not just local any more’.

Arts for Health involves a very successful and effective partnership between WCAC, Cork Education Training Board, HSE and Cork County Council.

Five Community Hospitals; Skibbereen, Schull, Dunmanway, Clonakilty, Castletownbere. Five Day Care Centres; Skibbereen, Dunmanway, Clonakilty, Castletownbere, Bantry, and Bantry General Hospital, Care of the Elderly Unit currently avail of the service managed by West Cork Arts Centre.

For more information see this report in The Irish Examiner. 



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