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The Arts for Health programme is open to Community Hospital residents and Day Care Centre attendees in West Cork, as well as their family members. To get involved contact us by phone or email, or talk to a member of the Community Hospital or Day Care Centre care team.


There are over 400 Arts for Health participants from both community hospitals and day care centres. Everyone in the healthcare setting is welcome to participate in the programme.


Family Carers and hospital visitors are invited to take part in the programme. Hospital activity sessions are promoted as a shared activity and reaching out to the wider community is welcomed. Family Carers can engage in a wide range of activites.

Health Professionals

Healthcare professionals play a vital role in enabling the residents and service users to participate in the programme, they support the programme manager and artists in delivering the programme. There are also activites as part of the programme that faciilte their creative learning and engagement.

Arts Professionals

Arts for Health is delivered by a team of professional artists, each with distinctly different practices, who have developed their professional expertise in working with older people. Guest artists joingthe programme adding to the diversity of choice and collaborative oportunities.


Participants are placed at the centre of the programme, their wellbeing and choice being paramount. In general, participants are older people aged 65 years and over, who reside in hospitals or attend one of the day care facilities in West Cork. All are invited to take part and are welcome to sit in during sessions. If their health does not permit them to actively participate, they are encouraged to chat or just observe what is occurring during sessions.

Improvements reported from participating in the programme include pleasure in the activity, increased socialisation, reduction of isolation, improved memory and eye-hand co-ordination, enhanced relationships with family members and staff and increased self-esteem. Conversations in Colour Evaluation of Arts for Health Partnership programme 2005/6 Jennifer Russell

Here’s what the participants have to say, ‘Time goes by so quickly.  When I’m painting I lose track of time.  I really shut myself off to what’s going on around me.’ Seán O’Suilleabháin….‘Another interesting afternoon, and it’s better it’s getting’ John Anderson…..‘I would have been cross if I missed it. I really enjoyed it.’  Ethel Clarke….You brightened up our day’  Eileen O’Sullivan….‘We couldn’t draw like that with our hands( arthritis ) It was so natural to make the shapes with the leaves and designing the picture like that. We have a lovely time’ Margaret


Everyone in the healthcare setting is welcome to participate in the programme including the wider hospital community such as relatives and visitors. This promotes shared activity and conversation points across generations.

Here’s what the families have to say, “As a daughter of a resident patient Ethel McCarthy in Skibbereen Community Hospital, I’d like to ‘sing my praises’ for Liz Clark. For her dedication and commitment to all the residents whose eyes brighten up when they hear her play the guitar and sing their favourite old time Irish songs. It’s great that she knows them all by name and also knows each person’s party piece song. I myself have had the honour of taking part with my mother and Liz on Monday sessions and was delighted to take part last Friday to sing the two beautiful songs; Far away in Australia and Dear Old Skibbereen as part of the 110 Girls Coming Home: Art and the Great Hunger commemoration. Well done …. keep up the great work you are doing.”

At the end of project celebration and performance of Stories from the Well Fields with artist Tess Leak. “[…] the most beautiful blending of story, song, poetry, performance and art. I was asked to read a poem written by one of the members of the Company in St. Joseph’s. I can honestly say that it was such an honour. All these years later Sean was able to tell his story and his heartfelt words moved many of us to tears. It was such a privilege to have been part of it all.’ 

Family Carers can engage with the new Creative Carer programme, described as’…such a lovely restorative idea’

“…I am glad you use the phrase about utopia without apologising for it, because a culture with freedom of creativity is my kind of utopia… “

Martin Turp, Artist and Activist

“Arts and Health are together a means to nourish and so are key to any benign politics to nurture a better and fairer society. “

Mike White, Centre for Medical Humanities

“Creativity and imagination and the arts are a powerful path for social change…not through hierarchical schemes, but in dialogue; person-to-person.”

Dr Perla Cikez, Mexico City

Healthcare Professionals

Health professionals who work in the eleven settings, in care and management, play a vital role in enabling the programme, in particular liaising with the artists on site and supporting the residents and service users to participate. They help with artist recruitment, organisation, internal communications and where possible participate in a creative way themselves. The commitment and participation of staff involved enables the creative environment to flourish.

Here’s what some of the staff have to say about the programme, ‘I could see the amazement in their eyes when they revealed their prints.’ Eileen Crowley Day Care Staff ‘Please could you come everyday !’ Marilyn Day Care Staff…’I love to see the delight and surprise on a residents face when something from their imagination comes alive on paper.’

“I need to express how important both myself and my colleagues find the Arts for Health’ Programme for our residents. The positive impact of these sessions are clearly evident by the broad smiles and obvious spiritual lifting.’

‘The residents here in Clonakilty Community Hospital are provided with healthy food for their bodies but this poetry menu feeds their hearts and souls. This project has provided the residents an opportunity to engage with the artists, staff and relatives at a deeper level. The residents and their family need this balance to see and be with their loved ones as mother, father, brother or sister. Thank you for the Artists who have a great ability to be with the residents, we are so much better at the doing.’ Carol McCann, Director of Nursing

Arts Professionals

The programme is delivered by a team of professional artists, each with distinctly different practices, who have developed their professional expertise in working with older people. Much of the expertise is developed through the built in professional development and training opportunities within the Arts for Health programme. Guest artists are an important part of the programme bringing in fresh perspectives and collaborative opportunities. The artists participate in open discussions, national projects, network and dialogue events. They contribute to the Arts for Health online documentation of their progress and supervised placements. The teams commitment and ambition combined with patience and flexibility drives the programme forward.

A distinction of this programme is that it is managed by an arts rather than a care organisation. This enables the creative, social and cultural experience to remain at the fore, it also ensures that the artists are supported in their professional practice and specific expertise to deliver a high level and consistent service.

Arts for Health is managed by Justine Foster, as part of a portfolio of work, as Programme Manager: Education and Community at Uillinn West Cork Arts Centre. With staff at Southern Health Board she initiated Arts for Health in 2002 and continues to manage the programme from West Cork Arts Centre, coordinating with the stakeholders and partners. Professional network support comes from membership of Arts and Health Coordinators Ireland and Azure Ireland.