Dementia Awareness Week at St Christopher’s Hospice

A blonde woman plays the violin. Behind her a screen read Dementia Awareness Week.

Entelechy Arts was invited by St Christopher’s Hospice during their Dementia Awareness Week to exhibit material from the Entelechy Archive, and to run a workshop for nurses and clinicians to explore the connection between art, creativity, wellbeing and community.

Jenny Fogarty, Lead for St Christopher’s CARE said “We’re delighted to have the Entelechy exhibition for our Dementia Awareness week. It’s the first of its kind – the first use of the building and the first external partner that we’re working with.” 

The installation, a celebration of older people and their creativity, included some of the beautiful poems and artworks made by Entelechy Arts and Meet Me members and artists, as well as photos of members and inspiring quotes on themes like love and happiness. “The display”, members of staff at St Christopher’s said, “made the place alive, more human”.

The workshop, run by Entelechy Arts’ Creative Director Rebecca Swift with artists Shane Waltener, Assia Ghendir and Lizzie Ogle, was a playful and immersive session designed from work made in collaboration with people living with dementia in care homes, dance spaces and hospital wards. 

A group of 15 people including clinicians, nurses, St Christopher’s Education team and volunteers, joined this non-verbal exploration of movements, sounds and textures, in a creative exercise that required everyone to ‘let go and think differently’. 

When asked about the moments that stood out for them, or the emotions they felt at the end of the workshop, participants shared:  

“A feeling of being connected, with myself first, and then others” 

“Non-verbal is very powerful” 

“No one judged you” 

“The hand mirroring was very calming” 

“A sense of freedom” 

“For me it was about not thinking about anything, just letting it go completely. Go with the flow, go with my emotions” 

“I really enjoyed the session. It’s given me ideas to take away and use”. 

Helen King, Project Manager (Age Attuned Palliative Care) at St Christopher’s, added “The one exercise that really spoke to lots of people was the ‘mirroring hands’ because you felt like you were having a conversation. That non-verbal connection really resonated”. 

This experience sparked a conversation between Entelechy Arts and St Christopher’s Hospice on the need for nurses and anyone caring for people with dementia to learn and develop non-verbal communication skills, and how we can facilitate this and remove the fear that is often associated with creative ways of working. 

We look forward to keeping the conversation going on how to best connect with and care for people with dementia. If you’d like to share your thoughts or experiences on this subject, we’d love to hear from you. Email: info@entelechyarts.org 

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