DEMENTIA sufferers are benefiting from a new arts initiative at a Wearside care home.
Highcliffe Care Centre, in Witherwack, has joined forces with the Equal Arts programme to launch its “Room for the Imagination”, which includes visual arts, story-telling sessions and music and movement activities.
Care home manager Lesley Langton said the project, funded by the South of Tyne PCT, aims to help residents express themselves in creative ways with the support of staff.
“Evidence shows the benefits of artistic activities to those living with dementia are wide ranging,” said Lesley.
“Such opportunities provide mental stimulation and of course work to help resolve the sense of social isolation that dementia can cause.
“Participatory projects such as these allow people to feel included and engaged in something meaningful.”
Running for 26 weeks, the programme is proving popular with residents and complements an existing recreation and leisure scheme at the site.
Lesley, who is a member of the Dementia Steering Group, which covers Sunderland, Gateshead and South Tyneside, has also helped develop a dementia strategy and create “Dementia Champions” in a bid to boost care.
“These champions are people tasked to complete an extensive training programme to then cascade the knowledge to their work colleagues who in turn will be able to deliver more person centred care,” said Lesley.
“Some of the champions were then nominated to complete a facilitators course in ‘Best Practice in Dementia Care’ developed by Stirling University and accredited by the Royal College of Nursing.
“The facilitators then returned to their place of work to deliver the course to eight care staff.”
Lesley said the care home has already been supported by the initiative, which has trained 16 staff.
“We are aiming for all staff to be trained and fully engaged in dementia awareness and improving the quality of lives of residents and their families,” said Lesley.
“In the UK, we are making great strides forward in respect of learning more about dementia.
“Initiatives such as these go a long way to making it happen but there is still more to be done.
“Everything we do is aimed at improving the quality of lives of residents.
“Their response so far has been great and they are thoroughly enjoying the wide range of activities we offer.”