The connection between the arts and wellbeing has long been acknowledged: more recently, the specific link between the beneficial uses of art for those suffering from dementia and other mental health issues has come into focus. WOW takes a look at the latest steps being taken to improve the lives of sufferers in Kent.
Proven to reduce isolation and keep people active and engaged, art is gradually stretching its multi-stranded fingers throughout all areas of health and wellbeing.
Here in Kent, the latest innovation comes courtesy of Maidstone Borough Council, which has teamed up with Maidstone Age UK, local Health Walk Groups and Dementia Adventure to offer a multi-sensory walk in Maidstone’s Mote Park for those living with dementia.
The new walk features a mix of visual interpretation panels and audio posts, and walkers are also encouraged to feel the bark textures on certain individual trees. There is a leaflet, including a map, to accompany the walk, which is approximately one-mile long. The interpretation along the route has been developed by Maidstone Borough Council following training from Dementia Adventure, and the whole project has been made possible thanks to a generous grant from Maidstone Age UK.
Two of Medway’s Dementia Action Alliance ambassadors, Lorraine Brown and Wayne Eaton, who both live with dementia, were delighted with the new walk. Lorraine commented: “I enjoy being with nature and I engage in health walks because I feel secure in a walking group as not getting lost is one of the many struggles I face when out on my own. The added bonus of the new walk in Maidstone is that it is ‘dementia friendly’; the audio recordings are remarkably helpful in identifying trees, birds and the view that surrounds. I have visual impairment, so audio is ideal!”
The launch of the walk follows a successful first Creative Care Expo, hosted by the Cultural Arm of the Kent Dementia Action Alliance last week. Arts organisations and practitioners from across Kent came together in County Hall, Maidstone, to show visitors from care homes, the NHS, local councils and other care providers the many and varied ways in which they engage older people and those living with dementia.
Taster sessions took place throughout the day, covering everything from dance to reminiscence, alongside presentations and a fashion show with accessible clothing for those who find buttons and fastenings a challenge. Read more about the KDAA Cultural Arm here.
To consolidate the range of venues looking to increase the accessibility of art and culture to all, Rochester Cathedral is hosting an art workshop for people living with dementia (accompanied by a friend or carer) on March 20, from 1-3pm. Spaces are limited and need to be booked in advance but the event is free and refreshments will be provided. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org to book.
Information about all the health walks in Maidstone is available by calling 0300 123 1220 or as a downloadable leaflet.
For more information on the new dementia-friendly walk, please contact Ann-Marie Langley at Maidstone Borough Council on email@example.com.