The Courtyard in Hereford has provided access to the arts for the older rural population since 2010. Their 'Making of Me' project was successfully piloted and evaluated by the Association for Dementia Studies (ADS) in 2014 (see Lillyman et al., 2014). During the pilot, a unique mentoring model was employed wherein a poet with considerable experience working with people who are living with dementia delivered training to four poets over several days. Following this training, the mentees shadowed the mentor during sessions in care home settings and received ongoing support. The evaluation showed that this model positively impacted on the mentees, and was well received by the residential recipients.
The second phase of the project was funded by The Baring Foundation, and ADS was commissioned to provide an independent evaluation. During this second phase 'Making of Me' extended the mentoring model to include three creative art forms - poetry, dance, and drama. Previous studies have shown that it is essential that creative arts specialists be trained to develop interpersonal skills in order to gain the confidence of older care home residents, in particular, residents living with dementia. It is also important that arts specialists are aware of potential barriers and communication issues common to this population (Dobson, 2000; Mottram, 2003; Coaten et al., 2013). A primary aim of this study was to provide a legacy of trained staff members towards who would be able to continue similar arts-based sessions within the participating care homes. While the evaluation confirmed the benefits for all involved in this model of mentoring, successful sustainability through training of care staff remains a difficult prospect.
For more information about this project, please contact Dr Claire Garabedian.