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Mentoring and Learning

for artists and health practitioners

Artists in Healthcare, Learner Programme

Learner artists are invited to work alongside the core team of experienced artists for a peer learning experience. This can be a mix of sessions with different artists and/or longer period with one artist. The learner artists take part in the team meetings, management mentors clinics and bespoke training days. The artists are then invited to design and deliver a project solo over a number of weeks with off site mentor support. They also take part in report writing and reflective practices.

This learner programme took place in 2017 with five composers and again 2022 with three artists from music, literary and visual art background.

Learning more about Cognitive Difference

This series of outreach mentoring sessions takes place over three months with artists working with Sarah Cairns on site, to develop facilitation techniques, creative approaches and on site structures when working in healthcare settings with people who have memory loss and dementia. The one-to-one mentoring responds to a self-conducted learning needs analysis to address specific on site challenges.

“The outreach mentor sessions have been fruitful and informative. Each centre has been very welcoming and staff are clearly behind the AfH programme. The artists are dedicated to bringing the participants a high quality programme, we have worked together to fine tune the workings of the programme in each centre and explore supportive ways of working with people with dementia and other cognitive differences.” Sarah Cairns

Placement Programme

Arts for Health placement takes place annually in autumn and follows a flexible sixteen week programme of shadowing, planning and delivery under the supervision of Arts for Health core team artists. The programme invites submissions from artists with an identified and specific interest in learning and developing their professional practice in working with older people in healthcare settings.

To date the there have been nine artists accepted onto this programme since the placement began in 2010.


At the outset, the placement artist shadows an AfH artist to establish the basics; meet the artists’ team, navigate the working environment, take a supporting role during weekly workshops and get to know the care staff and the participants’ interests and capacity.


The next step is for the Placement Artist to establish a project plan for the programme with the Arts for Health Artist. The plan must fit into the overall programme aims and must prioritise the welfare and cultural requirements of the participants. It should provide creative opportunities for the residents in the long-stay unit, supporting access to and engagement with the arts for older people in this context. It should offer an element of challenge and interest beyond standard transferral of skills and reflect the artist’s professional practice. It can be in any artform. The level of collaboration with the AfH Artist can be negotiated at this point.


The Placement Artist should take a lead role in the delivery of their project with a small group of older residents in the long-stay unit. The supervising artist will advise where appropriate and offer holding support initially and quietly observe throughout to support when needed.

The Placement Artist is expected to learn about and engage in best practice, this includes documenting their work, keeping a reflective journal, attending team meetings, engaging in pre and post workshop discussion and submitting documentary evidence of the experience, along with a short written report.