HWYL

“I enjoyed helping my mother. It was moving to see her painting again – something she used to love but hasn’t done for many years. My grandson joined in too.”

 

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HWYL was a partnership project between Dementia Matters in Powys (DMiP) and Arts Alive Wales (AAW) at Brecon War Memorial Hospital. It ran weekly between October 2016 to March 2017.

DMiP is a newly constituted organisation that aims to build a dementia-friendly County that fully supports the well-being and quality of life of those living with dementia. AAW offers arts activities that engage, inspire and enhance quality of life. AAW’s arts and health programme includes work with adults living with dementia. Both organisations believe that creativity is fundamental to wellbeing and that participation in the arts can help people live well with dementia.

The project focused on working with elderly patients on wards, with their families, carers, the ward staff and artists on a weekly basis. It’s main aims were to reduce social isolation, improve sense of wellbeing and enjoyment as well as improving communication and interaction.

‘I liked the laughter – I am a not a very positive person but the group always made me laugh. I didn’t always want to join in but was always glad I did. I surprised myself. It made my week.’

 

The project comprised of 18 weekly sessions of an hour and a half each Monday afternoon in the day room for Y Bannau and Epynt Wards. Sessions offered a warm welcoming atmosphere for creative, collaborative sessions that comprised of music making, gentle movement, song, reminiscence, poetry, visual arts and craft.

HWYL was coordinated by a lead artist Tessa Waite, who attended every session. Her role consisted of supporting the activity, participants, volunteers and facilitating artist.

Sessions were led by one of four artists, each working through a different medium:

Tessa Waite, visual artist
Graham Harthill, poet and workshop facilitator
Sarah Harman, singer and natural voice teacher
Louise Money, movement and music practitioner and facilitator

Two volunteers, Frances Isaacs and Gaynor Jones attended and aided the creation of inclusive sessions. This support was invaluable, as it helped to encourage conversation and engagement of participants.

In addition, Film-maker Siôn Marshall-Waters documented the project by attending various sessions and recording interviews with the artists and project staff.

 

As well as fulfilling the main aims of the projects, HWYL provided a number of other outcomes including positive impact on relationships, improved self-esteem and confidence, readiness to try new things and an acquisition of new knowledge / skills. (eg – learning a new song by ear) Visitors also noted that it made a more creative and interesting visit for friends and families.

‘It was a break from the hospital ward, I’ve had a lovely afternoon, I’ve really enjoyed it.’

 

‘We think when we are listening. As we were listening to the poetry I could see it relaxing people. It was a shared experience that brought us together.’

 

‘I enjoyed everyone getting together, holding hands and joining in together’

 

Moving forward, DMiP will work with BWMH to enable the coordination and funding of a continued art project on Y Bannau and Epynt wards. Arts Alive Wales and Dementia Matters in Powys will continue to work together to develop arts and health projects that support the wellbeing of adults living with dementia.

 

Funded by:

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& The League of Friends Brecon Hospital

Film and Photo credit: Siôn Marshall-Waters

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