West Cork Arts Centre, in partnership with the Health Service Executive Southern Area, West Cork Adult Education Services and the Arts Office, Cork County Council, is working to develop, co-ordinate and deliver an appropriate and meaningful arts programme for Community Hospitals in the West Cork area with a view to making it a viable, sustainable long-term arts for health project.
Services provided by the Community Hospital structure include acute care, rehabilitation, respite, palliative and continuing care. Other services, including activity programmes, are an integral part of the operating philosophy of a community hospital complex (Ageing with Confidence Strategy 1999).
There are over 72,000 people over the age of 65 in the Cork and Kerry region i.e. 12% of the total population. Life expectancy in our society continues to increase and is expected to continue to do so into the future. Projections for the Southern Area region predict a rise in the number of people over 65, to 80,000 by 2011. At the same time the number of dependant older people is expected to rise. There are 307 patients cared for in the 5 Community Hospitals in West Cork. Bantry General Hospital provides for extra patients in long-term care.
An arts-for-health pilot project was implemented in Skibbereen Community Hospital in 2002 as a result of the Southern Health Board’s (SHB) Ageing with Confidence Strategy, a blueprint for the development of services to improve the health and quality of life of older people. A partnership was set up between the Health Promotion Department, SHB and the West Cork Arts Centre and a 10-week visual arts programme for older people resident in a rural hospital was implemented. The project was evaluated and a report written. Two recommendations were made and the preferred option was to employ an artist to facilitate workshops rather than release staff to train as facilitators of arts practice.
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. The findings from the pilot project, while specific to the pilot site and a project of short duration, would seem to be supported by findings from other projects both nationally and internationally. Many of the potential benefits of arts in healthcare are outlined in the Arts Council’s publication, The Arts & Health Handbook. The decision to implement a one-year action research project was made in order to follow on from the pilot outlined above and answer further questions while implementing a programme of longer duration.
In May 2005, the 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 in the 5 Community Hospitals and Bantry General Hospital, based on the findings of the 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 Sheelagh Broderick, Chairperson (HSE Health Promotion) ), Justine Foster, Secretary (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, Principle Community Worker).
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, West Cork VEC 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.Links
To get some further information, please have a look at our partners' websites:
Residents of Clonakilty and Dunmanway Community Hospitals welcomed guest artist Helle Helsner for a two week project in each location, as part of the Arts for Health partnership programme.
Working directly from their imaginations, the residents created a collection of bronze sculptures with Arts for Health artists Anne Harrrington-Rees, Sarah Ruttle, and guest artist Helle, who has been working with bronze for the past 12 years. Texture and surface form an important part of her work as does the pre-historic processes in which she specialises.
This short collaboration began with the process of modelling wax, a very soft material which once heated in the hands is very malleable and will pick up minute details such as nail and finger prints. Helle says that ‘this makes it an ideal material to work with, as conscious touch alone can produce a piece.’ Off site, the wax pieces were cast in bronze by Helle using a combination of ancient and modern methods in her small scale foundry.
A launch of the work will take place during Bealtaine which will be on permanent display in the respective hospitals from May 2013. For futher information see Arts+Health
A Menu of Poems
In celebration of All Ireland Poetry Day 2012, Arts for Health Partnership programme, West Cork, took part in the Arts and Health Co-ordinators Ireland national poetry project A Menu of Poems. A short anthology of poetry called Life-Lines was selected by poet, Mae Leonard, in association with Poetry Ireland, from donated poems by both established and emerging poets, for distribution throughout varied healthcare settings in Ireland.
Eleven poems, of varying styles and themes, make up this colourful collection. They range from sonnets to Haikus and some of the featured works will make the reader laugh out loud, for example 92 And Driving by Karen O’Connor and Roll over Wordsworth by Christine Broe, while others give gentle pause for thought such as An Insect’s Gift by Liam Aungier and John McKenna’s Sonnet for John Wortley in his ninetieth year.
The Arts for Health Artists’ Team read and shared the poems from Life-Lines with staff and patients of Bantry General Hospital and Castletownbere, Clonakilty, Dunmanway, Skibbereen and Schull Community Hospitals over a two week period. Life-Lines was co-ordinated by Naas General Hospital Arts Committee and is a joint initiative between Arts in Health at Cork University Hospital; Arts for Heath Partnership Programme, West Cork; West Cork Mental Heath Services; Galway University Hospitals Arts Trust; Leopardstown Park Hospital, Foxrock; Arts Initiative in Mental Health, Sligo; Naas General Hospital Arts Committee; Arts Programme, Raheen Hospital, Co. Clare; Waterford Healing Arts Trust.
Castletownbere Day Care Centre Tuesday Group has been very prolific this year and produced a collection of original poems entitled Meitheal with artist Tess Leak. The poems were all created through conversations with the artist and inspired by the participant's working lives and featured as part of a Bealtaine exhibition in the local library and will again resurface as part of a new project The Waiting Room, currently being developed. Three selected poems are being framed and presented for a tour of HSE waiting rooms across the services of West Cork.
The Starling Song Project
In celebration of Positive Ageing Week 2012, West Cork Arts Centre launched a unique compilation of songs, created by the older people frequenting Day Care Centres and a Community Hospital in West Cork. The Starling Song Project is a collaboration between singer songwriter, Liz Clark and visual artist, Tess Leak as part of the Arts for Health partnership programme resulting in the CD - The threshing machine made a devilous sound, featuring 5 songs written with the project participants’ contributions.
Liz Clark brought her poetic and infectious musical style and Tess Leak her interest in ‘found’ text, along with her experience of working with older people, to this project which took place in three locations – Clonakilty Community Hospital, Castletownbere Day Care and Skibbereen Day Care Centre, with four groups involved. Working together and sometimes with Liz independently, the artists discussed stories and experiences connected to the locality with participants. These exchanges stimulated ideas and influenced the development of melodies and lyrics to create a collection of original songs.
Liz Clark and Tess Leak performed the songs at several different celebratory events, including an event on National Music Day Ireland: Love Live Music, at Skibbereen Community Hospital last June.
The CD can be purchased at Castletownbere Day Care Centre 027 – 70737 or West Cork Arts Centre 028 - 22090, price €5. Proceeds towards the Arts for Health Programme
SPECTRUM is an image-based book reflecting a five month collaborative visual art project led by the Arts for Health artists’ team with participants from six long-term hospital residential units in West Cork. The artists' team includes Sharon Dipity, Julia Pallone, Tess Leak, Anne Harrington Rees and Seán O’Laoghaire.
The project explored colour: its associations, versatility and emotive response. From this investigation came a number of drawings, prints and paintings. Curated by the artists’ team, these images were transformed into a carefully considered poetic vision of the process. Throughout the book the artists share a brief insight into how they converse, encourage and collaborate with the participants.
SPECTRUM is part of an ongoing commitment to sharing and celebrating the important artwork that is created through the Arts for Health partnership programme.
Books are available from West Cork Arts Centre, price €5 with proceeds going to Arts for Health Community Hospital Arts Programme.
Dialogue Arts + Health is a framework for contemporary collaborative arts practice that encouraged peer critique, creative documentation and networking.
Dialogue Arts + Health was curated by the Artist Liaison, Annette Moloney and delivered in four key strands – an Arts and Health Mentoring Award, a peer-led Dialogue Series, a National Exchange Day and an online Dialogue & Exchange forum to support and report on the project.
Dialogue Arts + Health brought together artists who are experienced or interested in developing contemporary art projects in healthcare settings. A series of three peer-to-peer Dialogue Sessions took place in Galway, Cavan, Limerick and Offaly once a month in September, October and November 2011. These included open discussions, short presentations and creative workshare opportunities for artists
Five Reasons for Artists to Attend:
1. The Dialogue Sessions were a professional development opportunity led by practicing artists.
2. The sessions were open to artists and practitioners, from all artforms, including those with some experience of working in healthcare settings and also those who have an interest in developing their practice in the area of Arts and Health.
3. The sessions gave artists the chance to talk to other artists, to evaluate their practice, get practical information and to draw encouragement from work of artistic ambition.
4. The registration fee, to cover all three sessions was €10, giving artists access to nine hours of professional contact time.
5. The main programming costs of the Dialogue Sessions were funded by the Arts Council of Ireland through a one-off special project award.
If you would like more information you can visit the blog http://dialogueartsandhealth.wordpress.com/ where you can comment, find out more about the artists involved and download the individual venue flyers.
Partners & Acknowledgments
The Dialogue Sessions were part of a larger Dialogue Arts + Health project developed by the Arts and Health Coordinators Ireland (AHCI) in partnership with the Association of Local Authority Arts Officers (ALA:AO) through support and funding from the Arts Council of Ireland through a one-off special project award. The project was developed through contributions and assistance from Create; Waterford Healing Arts Trust; the National Centre for Arts and Health at The Adelaide and Meath Hospital, incorporating the National Children’s Hospital; Helium – Children’s Arts and Health; West Cork Arts Centre; Cork Arts + Health Programme; the Arts Initiative in Mental Health and St. Patrick's University Hospital Dublin.
Artist representative on the project steering committee was Lucia Barnes.