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Creative Arts Essex

Mary and Marty

About our project

Our idea is a creative communities project, using the arts to help people living with dementia in Essex to express themselves. We hope that the project will bring together people with dementia, their families, colleges and universities, local health and social care organisations, and charities.

We’re very aware that dementia is on the increase and there’s so much more we can do to raise awareness. Our aim is to help people living with dementia stay in their communities, remain independent and empowered, and feel their voices are heard.

We are kicking off our idea and involvement in the Challenge Dementia Prize with drop-in events for local people to share their ideas. The feedback will be used to develop a programme of creative workshops, which could include creative writing, poetry, drama, digital stories and interactive fiction. People living with dementia will be able to share their stories and talk about their lives, increasing awareness of their experiences.

This idea was inspired in part by an innovative teaching activity, where our nursing, occupational therapy and physiotherapy students watched a play about dementia. Students said they’d learned more in an hour than they would from three hours of Powerpoint presentations. It captured their interest and really made them think, helping them understand the experiences of people living with dementia and their families.

Getting involved in community events can help keep people with dementia active and independent. We’ll initially be working with people at the early stages but in the future we’d like to look at how we can work with those with more advanced dementia. We’d hope to work with local care homes.

The Essex project is being led by Dr Mary Kennedy and Marty Jacobs, Head of Technology Enhanced Learning at the University. For more information and to get involved, email Dr Kennedy on mrkenn@essex.ac.uk.