Belong - [L-R] Brigitte Jurack, Veronica Davies & Pegeen O'Sullivan (1)

A pioneering pilot study exploring the impact of creative workshops on those living with dementia at Belong Crewe care village has been hailed a huge success.

Findings from the study are being evaluated by the Centre for Collaborative Innovation in Dementia at Liverpool John Moores University.

They want to assess how the arts can be effectively embedded into other care environments.

Launched in January, the pilot marks the first phase of Belong’s three-year research project with Liverpool’s centre for the contemporary arts, Bluecoat.

Bluecoat commissioned six critically acclaimed artists, with many years of nationally recognised practice between them, to work in ‘residency’ at the care village.

Here they engaged residents, family members and support teams in a six-month art programme, boasting more than 70 different workshops ranging from storytelling and sculpture to music and dance.

Evaluation of the residences so far show these experimental initiatives are improving lives of the individuals involved, especially those living with dementia.

Early results include high participation, enhanced cognitive capacity and an increased sense of community among previously isolated individuals.

The resounding success of the first stage of the project was captured at a celebratory event at Belong.

Belong Deputy Chief Executive Tracy Paine said: “We are thrilled with the outcomes of the pilot study, which are making a real contribution to best practice in this area.

“The next stage of the project will see the ‘artist in residency’ scheme implemented at our new care villages, helping our customers live happier and more enriched lives.”

Laura Yates, acting head of participation at Bluecoat, added: “The artist workshops have had an incredible impact on the residents and their families, providing a valuable tool to unlock memories and aid cognitive function.

“We look forward to building on these creative initiatives with Belong in the future to further improve the lives of those with dementia.”

To find out more information on the project and any upcoming events, visit: www.belong.org.uk/bluecoat/

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