Arts for Health Partnership Programme is an inter-agency model of partnership providing year round cultural and creative opportunities for residents of Community Hospitals and Day care centre service users across West Cork since 2005.
The interagency partnership is made up of four bodies, Uillinn West Cork Arts Centre, Cork and Kerry Community Healthcare, Cork Education and Training Board and Cork County Council who have worked together for over twelve years to realise this programme.
Access to and engagement with the arts in healthcare settings improves the quality of life for the individuals in residential care. It encourages conversation and links with the wider hospital community. By being integrated into the culture of the care setting, the programme allows ideas and the individual creative interests of the participants to be nurtured, developed and implemented over time.
It takes place in Community Hospitals in Castletownbere, Clonakilty, Dunmanway, Schull, Skibbereen, Bantry General Hospital Care of the Elderly Unit and Day Care Centres in Bantry, Castletownbere, Clonakilty, Dunmanway and Skibbereen. The delivery of the programme is through an Arts for Health artistsʼ team which is managed by West Cork Arts Centre. The artists, each with distinctly different practices, have developed their professional expertise in working with older people and benefit from collaborative opportunities and peer learning.
Key to the programme integration are the healthcare professionals based in each location. Known as Site Coordinators they act as a liaison and link person connecting participants, other staff and family members with the artists and with the ethos of the Arts for Health programme. Welcoming the artists into the care setting, the site coordinators share up to date information, help navigate and lend their expertise to support meaningful art sessions that meet the needs of participants.
To illustrate the workings of the programme, a website has been launched www.artsforhealthwestcork.com giving easy access to information about the events, projects and learning programmes that make up this creative programme.
The Arts for Health Partnership celebrated the launch of their second arts and health strategy at Dunmanway Community Hospital in November 2017. The plan sets out to increase choice and accessibility, improve communications and ensure the current quality provision is maintained. It outlines actions towards an inclusive way of working that supports people living with dementia, as it is estimated that there are 55,000 people in Ireland living with dementia and in-line with Ireland’s rapidly ageing population, that number is predicted to rise significantly. This three year strategic plan includes proactive steps towards improving quality of life for people living with dementia and their families.
‘Arts for Health clearly hit its aim of enabling choice, social inclusion and equitable access to arts for older people in West Cork. It can be seen in the wards enhancing the mood of our residents, helping them socially, emotionally in their physical and mental wellbeing.’ Director of Nursing, Theresa Healy Kingston from Dunmanway Community Hospital.
Images: Hear Me See, Exploration, Schull Community Hospital, Artist: Sarah Ruttle
Museum of Making and Mending, Bantry General Hospital, St Josephs Ward, Artist: Tess Leak