Help Start a Conversation: Creative Dementia Kits

by Artlink Central in Stirling

Help Start a Conversation: Creative Dementia Kits
We did it
On 31st May 2016 we successfully raised £520 with 19 supporters in 28 days

Help Artlink Central launch our new Creating Conversations kits for people with dementia in care settings to support our ongoing programmes.

by Artlink Central in Stirling

Help Artlink Central launch our new Creating Conversations kits for people with dementia, aimed at groups of older people, including those with dementia in care settings and day services. This will offer  greater access to quality creative and social opportunites for users, carers and staff and create a new income stream to support the ongoing work of Artlink Central, reducing our reliance on public funding and offering stability to the artists and vulnerable groups we support.

Please support Artlink Central to successfully launch a creative product range designed for activities coordinators, volunteers and individual carers to achieve the benefits that can be achieved through artist led sessions, without the need to employ a professional artist

About Artlink Central

Artlink Central is a people-centred, participatory arts organisation engaging professional artists to work directly with those excluded from participating in the arts by illness, disability or disadvantage. We use music, literature, storytelling, visual and performing arts to remove barriers in people’s lives and to discover and nurture an individual’s creative talent and self-expression to improve social skills and enhance health and wellbeing. Key areas of our programme include:

  • ArtSpace – a programme of weekly arts workshop, by GP referral, for people experiencing mental health issues.
  • ArtReach – a cross-artform programme for adults with learning disabilities, developed and led by users.
  • Arts and Health – a range of programmes delivered in children’s wards, to the elderly and in mental health and dementia healthcare settings across the Forth Valley. These programmes enlist pioneering practice in the field to deliver improved wellness and wellbeing for participants.
  • Arts, Transition and Social Inclusion - programmes in schools across the Forth Valley, which focusses on bringing together groups of additional needs P7 students from various cluster schools, for arts based transition projects at their intended high school.
  • Arts in Prisons – programmes to help women offenders develop emotional and social awareness and to facilitate change and aspirations in offenders through recognition of self-responsibility and potential, with a focus on creating a specifically women-centred approach to programme delivery.

 The Project For Which We Request Funding

Artlink Central operates as a traditional charitable organisation, on a mix of grant funding, service level agreements, donations and event fundraising but is struggling in the current economic climate to maintain traditional funding sources. In response, Artlink has identified an opportunity for expansion into commercial trading as an avenue to achieve enhanced social impact and a sustainable revenue stream.

 In an effort to future-proof the organisation Artlink Central plans to launch a fully-owned trading subsidiary, Creating Conversations Limited, to develop and sell products, in the first instance, for the care home and dementia markets, and in the longer term, for any needs and solutions we identify through working with our varied client groups.

 Creating Conversations Limited will allow Artlink to utilise the expertise that it has amassed in over 25 years of delivering projects to older people in healthcare settings , to develop products with commercial application that will improve wellbeing, increase self-expression and enhance social connection for users, whilst delivering a self-sustaining income stream for Artlink Central. It will offer an exciting opportunity for Artlink Central to bring innovative and highly effective new products to the market. It also offers an excellent opportunity to generate profit for social gain: to fund further innovative product development and to support the ongoing work of Artlink Central with vulnerable groups in the community.

 Our first product is Creating Conversations: Gardening, a creative activity kit for groups of older people, including those with dementia, for use in care home and daycare settings.




Rationale for this Product

The importance of creative activities for people with dementia is increasingly recognised, with compelling evidence around the benefits of artistic activities in promoting social connection, self-expression and increased wellbeing in care environments. 

 This kit will harness the effectiveness of creative arts activities to promote reminiscence and constructive conversation that reveals people's personal histories and builds bonds between groups of older people and their carers.

 Artlink Central has undertaken considerable market research to test the demand for such a product, including competitor analysis and benchmarking; analysis of government policy; market insight research: scale and urgency of market; and testing of the prototype kits within 20 care home and daycare settings, with detailed evaluations from session leaders, participants and facilities managers.

 Encouragingly, Artlink’s initial concepts stood up to each stage of this research.  From evaluation of test sessions in care homes we learned that 85% of respondents found that for participants the activity was ‘beneficial or highly beneficial’; 81% of respondents found that for facilitators the activity was ‘beneficial or highly beneficial’; 74% of facilitators would recommend the kit to a colleague.

 There is the potential to substantially scale up the operation by expanding the range of kits on offer. We are currently planning a complete range of 5 or 6 popular themes that would be effective in eliciting conversation, reminiscence and sharing by participants. They will include food (consistently nominated as a topic of interest in our testing), work, sport, families, neighbourhoods or special days and movies/music/culture.

 We have had considerable support for this project to date including a £10,000 grant from the Coalfields Regeneration Trust to prototype the product and conduct testing and have research support through Stirling University and the Scottish Funding Council innovation grant scheme to evidence the benefits of the product in use.

We are now at the exciting point where we actually take our product to market to be launched as part of a British Society of Gerontology conference  and with an exhibition of our product development journey at Macrobert Arts Centre, on the University of Stirling campus in July.  We are now ready to place our first orders to produce the kits, but really need your help to fund that very first investment and get these kits on a shelf. £ 2000 will allow us to produce a small run of our full kit and a  pack of our conversation cards, a key element of the kits that is portable and can used independently.




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