Arts 4 Dementia (A4D) held the first UK conference on social prescribing for the dementias at The Wellcome Collection in London on Thursday 16 May, with a key policy debate and presentations by leaders in social prescribing, arts for health and social care, to drive forward direction to arts on diagnosis.
This year 225,000 people will develop a dementia – one every three minutes. There is no cure, but widespread evidence that engaging with arts and heritage helps protect against the risk of cognitive decline and empowers individuals and their carers to override anxieties caused by dementia, develop new creative experiences, preserve speech and language skills and nurture resilience in the community, despite dementia.
On diagnosis of a dementia, people need direction to the arts to counteract loss and preserve cognitive function. Social prescribing (SP), whereby surgery case managers, health support workers and link workers encourage people to choose their own arts programmes, can achieve this. But the focus of social prescribing is rarely on dementia.
The Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, Rt. Hon. Matt Hancock says: “Although there is not yet a cure I believe we can do more to improve the lives of people with the condition. We can and should harness the incredible power of the arts and social activities to help people cope better with symptoms and stay connected to their communities. This is the kind of good-value, easy-to-use social prescription that I’m fully behind, helping to achieve a shirt to more person-centred care as part of our NHS Long Term Plan.”
“Towards Social Prescribing (Arts & Heritage) for the Dementias” looked at the evidence, the process and impact of SP arts as non-pharmaceutical interventions for the dementias and how this can be measured. Keynote speeches by Dr Michael Dixon OBE GP, National Clinical Lead for Social Prescription, NHS England and Co-Chair, Social Prescribing Network and Baroness Greengross, co-chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Dementia, led to the health and social care plenary debate to steer the drive for SP for dementia as universal post-diagnostic support. Presentations from surgery linkworker to prescribed arts programmes outlining the process, were followed by cultural companion training and launch of a volunteer creative companion consortium, ArtsPAL.
For further information go to https://arts4dementia.org.uk/our-presidents-blog/