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Innovative New Arts for Health Strategy

Health, Education and the Arts join together to launch innovative new Arts for Health strategy.

The inter-agency Arts for Health Partnership Programme today celebrated the launch of its innovative new arts and health strategy at Schull Community Hospital with a creative twist as local musicians and artists including Liz Clark and Eva Coyle joined together to mark the occasion with residents, staff, and visitors.

Running since 2002, in collaboration with Uillinn West Cork Arts Centre, HSE Cork Kerry Community Healthcare, Cork Education and Training Board, and Cork County Council, the Arts for Health Partnership Programme provides year-round cultural and creative activities for residents of Community Hospitals, older persons attending Day Care Centres, and their family carers across West Cork.

The newly launched five-year strategy is aimed at improving the lives of older people and family carers in West Cork by nurturing and developing participants’ creative interests with one to one and group sessions in art, dance, storytelling, filmmaking, music and more. The strategy focuses on increasing access to the programme and developing its artistic offering – providing an inclusive way of working to support the increasing number of people living with dementia across communities. The strategy also outlines actions to include creative supports for family and professional carers in healthcare, in the community and at home.

Mayor of the County of Cork, Cllr. Frank O’ Flynn congratulated all involved in the programme, “Cork County Council is proud to partner with the HSE Cork Kerry Community Healthcare, Cork Education and Training Board and Uillinn West Cork Arts Centre on this nationally recognised arts, health and education partnership programme. Art is not just a form of expression or entertainment, but is also a powerful tool for physical, mental, and emotional well-being. It has the remarkable ability to heal, inspire, and unite us as a community. I look forward to seeing the next chapter of the Arts for Health programme bring positivity and new experiences to many more participants.”

HSE Cork Kerry Community Healthcare Head of Services for Primary Care and Older Persons were both present to represent the link between the community and hospital care that the arts programme offers for older persons and family carers across West Cork.

Ms. Jackie Daly, Head of Older Person Services, Cork Kerry Community Healthcare, commented: “We warmly welcome the launch of The Arts for Health Partnership Programme’s new 5 year arts and health strategy. Throughout the years, older persons across our communities, their family members, and professional carers have greatly benefited from this creative arts programme – most notably by increasing socialisation, improving memory, and enhancing relationships with their family members and the wider community. Uniquely, this programme encourages collaboration between the artists and the older person to help encourage self-expression in a safe and supportive setting”.

Ms. Priscilla Lynch, Head of Primary Care, Cork Kerry Community Healthcare, said: “It is a great pleasure to be here today at Schull Community Hospital to celebrate the launch of the innovative new Arts for Health Partnership Programme’s strategy. This five-year plan will provide both patients and their carers with a unique opportunity to collaborate with artists to foster their creativity. As the programme marks its 20th year in our primary care centres and community hospitals, we celebrate the impact it has had on people across our communities to date; by placing patients at the centre of the programme we can ensure that they feel supported, included, and have the opportunity to learn and share in their life experiences in a meaningful manner.”

Ms. Bríd McAuliffe from Clonakilty, a participant on the new Creative Carers strand of the programme expressed her support, saying: “My husband is so happy after his music sessions and the joy it brings into our home is immeasurable. Long may this programme continue in West Cork.”

Ms. Roisin Walsh, Director of Nursing, Schull Community Hospitalspoke on the impact that the programme has had on its participants: “Brought to us twice weekly, by the wonderful artists over the past 18 years, we have witnessed the value these sessions provide our participants. Foot-tapping, eyes smiling, voices singing, hands clapping, friends chatting the joy of music, song, stories, painting – clearly captures how enriching this programme is for all who participate. Ms Walsh, who is currently Chairperson of the Arts for Health Partnership, further commented on the evidence-based approach to introducing music to the healthcare settings, adding “The World Health Organisation defines ‘Health’ as a state of physical, mental and social well-being – therefore we are privileged to have health in abundance in Schull Community Hospital, with the support from the Arts for Health Programme.”

Ms. Karen Whelan, Arts Participation Manager at The Arts Council welcomed the new strategic plan, commending Uillinn West Cork Arts Centre, HSE Cork Kerry Community Healthcare, Cork ETB, Cork County Council and all involved over the last 20 years on their collaboration: “The Arts for Health Partnership is an exemplary inter-agency model that is key in the delivery and development of the arts in healthcare services in the region. The programme is a testament to the vision and commitment of all partners, artists, and health care staff to ensure the provision of opportunities for older people in healthcare settings to enjoy and contribute to the arts and to their local communities, while also supporting overall health and well-being. The Arts Council extends congratulations to Uillinn and wish the Partnership continued success supported by its new strategic plan.”

Ms. Teresa O’Sullivan, Adult Education Officer, Cork Education and Training Board, “We believe that its involvement in the Arts for Health partnership, alongside Uillinn West Cork Arts Centre, Cork County Council, and the HSE underlines our commitment and vision of providing a “pathway for every learner”. This partnership approach, and the launch of the Arts for Health programme provides, we believe, a model for the rest of the country, for the development and delivery of creative arts programmes that provide stimulus and creative opportunities for the individual, recognising and celebrating their individuality and dignity, as well as their place and contribution to their families and communities. In marking the launch of the Arts for Health programme, we would also like to recognise the key role and contribution made by the care staff across to making the programme a success.”

The event closed with acknowledgements from Ms. Justine Foster, Uillinn Programme Manager, ‘Thank you so much to our speakers today, who so valuably witnessed and helped us share the Arts for Health programme, Deputy Mayor Cllr. John Healy, and our Senior representatives from Health Service Executive Ms. Pricilla Lynch and Ms. Jackie Daly. Acknowledging our TD’s present and eminent guests.

On behalf of the Arts for Health Partnership I would like to begin with an enormous thank you to our participants on the programme for their creative courage and our funding partners at HSE, Cork ETB and Cork County Council without which none of this would ever happen.

Thank you to the incredible Artist team who bring their expertise to the fore each working day sharing their artistic skills, and creative ideas – special thanks to our core team this year: Sharon Dipity, Sarah Ruttle, Justin Grounds, Bénédicte Coleman, Elizabeth R Murray, Áine Rose, Lewis Barfoot, Michael Greenlaw and today’s musicians Liz Clark, Eva Coyle, Ecki Krupp and the array of guest artists who add to the richness of the programme.

Thank you greatly to all the steering group members past and present who worked with me on realising the programme and ensuring that we meet the high standards our participants deserve (Chairperson and todays host), Roisin Walsh, Eleanor Moore, Evie Finlay, Joanna McCarthy, Margo Daly, Sarah Cairns, Sheelagh Broderick, Maeve Mulrennan and Teresa O’Sullivan.

A huge thank you to all the day care and hospital staff who work closely with the artists to prepare, schedule, and mind the creative and wellbeing needs of the participants; the dynamic team at Uillinn West Cork Arts Centre, who have worked alongside me daily to make the programme run smoothly and our special guests Pat O’ Mahony, and Vincent Ahern originators of the programme, 20 years ago. Finally our hosts at Schull Community Hospital for their generous welcome.”

The summary is available HERE

The full strategy is available to view by clicking HERE.