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people with dementia

How art resonates with people with dementia

Welcome to our ‘The Kind Link’ series, aiming to bring a piece of positive news in such uncertain times by talking to organisations whose work creates a positive impact. We will be exploring the challenges, motivations and goals of such organisations with consideration to the Covid-19 situation.

Resonate arts or otherwise known as Westminster Arts is a charity which promotes arts activities in the borough of Westminster for people living with dementia. The organization was founded in 2009 and became a key part of the development of the area in terms of taking care of people with dementia. The story behind how it all began is with a dementia development officer, who had experience with people with dementia, working on the National Dementia action plan. She had known the positive effects of arts on people with dementia and through her action, Resonate Arts became an integral part of supporting people with dementia in Westminster. Westminster arts had previously worked with people with dementia, so the advocacy of their work was already valued by the locals.

What is Resonate Arts’ goal?

The charity aims to help people with dementia have a good, full, satisfying life. They want to achieve it through engaging the people with meaningful activities, keep them from being isolated, keep them doing the things they enjoy and even find new hobbies. Kathryn from Resonate Arts shares that, unfortunately, not all areas of the UK have the organizations to support people with dementia. However, she is confident to say that Westminster is a great place to live for people with dementia. The organizations in the borough took action early on, which has had a snowball effect on the development of the area to support the people.

Resonate Arts sends a list of events for people with dementia to all their beneficiaries. This way they know everything that is going on around them and they have places to go where they will receive a warm welcome.

The events create the feeling that life continues as normal. Many people actually find that they’re trying new things.

At those events, the beneficiaries of the charity socialize, build friendships and together establish a community. It is important that they meet new people and people that understand their situation. This is something that happens organically, as the events are not often focused on peer support.

How does the charity continue to support people with dementia in lockdown?

Like many other things, these events and activities have had to stop during the crisis. Instead of events, the charity sends out lists with activities once per month. They also try to remind their beneficiaries of all the activities they want to resume after the crisis, just to remind them of what the charity does. On top of that, singing has become a key part of the lockdown period for the community of Resonate Arts. As they had a choir before lockdown, they’ve attempted to organize group singing events online. It all starts with sending lyrics to songs, singing over the telephone and one-to-one conversations. Kathryn shares how much people have expressed their love for singing and she shares an experience of a person from the community, who regularly dances and sings while talking on the phone with friends and families. This brings a smile to everyone’s face. It is important for people suffering from dementia to be able to give back and in this case, the person has been the cause for many smiles and happy moments.

Using digital solutions to put smiles on peoples’ faces

This focus on singing led to the first session of online singing. Kathryn tells us that the first twenty minutes were filled with excited waving, as everyone had been excited to see their friends. There could have been a negative effect from this event. Singing online as a choir can be challenging due to lag and other issues and it could have been disheartening for some. Fortunately, it ends up being all smiles and fun. The people had not felt the need to meet their friends in person and were perfectly happy to do everything online. Hearing their friends’ voice was enough to make their day great. Their beneficiaries have also shared with Resonate Arts that they know they haven’t been forgotten.

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