The Arts for Health Partnership Programme celebrated the launch of their ground-breaking arts and health strategy yesterday at Dunmanway Community Hospital with an array of eminent guest speakers and the screening of a short film made by residents of Bantry General Hospital, St. Joseph’s Ward during the programme.
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.
Speaking at the launch, Minister of State for Mental Health and Older People Jim Daly TD remarked, “It is a great pleasure for me to be here today to launch this programme. It greatly assists me with one of the biggest challenges that I face as Minister for Mental Health and Older people. We know now that we have become very successful in adding years to life in so many cases. Now the challenge is to add life to those years. This strategy to involve arts as part of the solution to many health and well-being issues is a most welcome development.”
To illustrate the workings of the programme, a new website has been launched. The website gives easy access to information about the events, projects and learning programmes that make up this creative programme. Ann O’Connor, Arts and Health Advisor to the Arts Council of Ireland commended the work of West Cork Arts Centre for coordinating the programme. Highlighting the uniqueness of the programme, “the vital role of Uillinn West Cork Arts Centre’s in coordinating the inter agency partners, in particular the work of Programme Manager, Justine Foster who also supports the artists in the delivery of the programme and in their wider practice. Also important to note is the programme has access to many skilled and talented artists who have developed a high level of expertise in working with older people.”
The plan put forward by the Arts for Health Partners, underlines their ambitions and confidence in the inter-agency way of working. It 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. “The transition from living at home to living in a residential centre for older people is one of the most challenging life changes that any of us will experience. The Arts for Health programme in this setting provides an opportunity for self-expression and autonomy for residents which the HSE is pleased to support as part of the social model of care”, described Gabrielle O’Keeffe, Head of Social Care, Cork and Kerry Community Healthcare.
The real evidence of this programme is in the atmosphere of the wards as described in the words of the Director of Nursing, Theresa Healy Kingston from Dunmanway Community Hospital, ‘The Arts for Health Partnership Programme clearly hits 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.’
Of the Arts for Health Programme, Mayor of Cork County, Declan Hurley Cllr congratulated all involved, “long may the good work continue. There is great pride for west Cork to have initiated this nationally recognised local partnership programme, credited as a model of excellence.”
‘Thanks to the Minister of State for Mental Health and Older People Jim Daly TD for taking the time out to visit the Arts for Health Partnership Programme, West Cork and recognise the work that is being done. It was a warm and welcoming event that gave occasion to celebrate the achievements of hospital residents, day care participants, artists staff and partners involved’. remarked Programme Manager Justine Foster at the end the day.
Check out a short video taken on the day Minister Jim Daly TD Launches Arts for Health Strategy and Website