Staff and patients at the Royal Free London (RFL) demonstrated their creative side as part of a range of events celebrating dementia awareness week 2019.

Activities across hospitals explored how the creative arts can help improve care for people with dementia and their experience. These included a virtual reality tour, haircuts for patients, musical artists at bedsides, arts and crafts sessions which saw Zimmer frames at Barnet Hospital given a much-needed facelift and for the first time ever, a petting zoo at the Royal Free Hospital. 

Danielle Wilde, trust dementia lead and Chito Gabutin, ward manager, spoke about the importance of the arts in dementia care.

Danielle said: "We have the NHS's first theatre space which is incredible, and I think that's taught us that using art makes a difference."

Chito added: "It's the little things we can do for our patients with dementia that make a big difference in how they experience life at the moment. Having their hair done, watching movies and listening to music bring back fond memories.”

The week also saw the painting of dementia pledge trees on two wards, inspired by recent visitor to the trust, Tommy Whitelaw. When his mother was diagnosed with dementia Tommy cared for her – and he recently spoke about that experience to staff at the Royal Free Hospital.

The trees, which were painted by art therapist Jacquie Kottler, will act as a visual representation of commitments made to dementia care. Staff and patients are invited to add pledge leaves and apples to the tree as a reminder of what matters to them. 

Fritzie Cencil, clinical practice educator said: “The most important thing to remember is to focus on the person behind the dementia - remember in the middle of dementia, it says me, and so we have to focus on the person, not just the disease."

We want to thank the Royal Free Charity and Barnet Charity for their invaluable support in making this year a great success.

Picture caption: (l-r) Danielle Wilde, Fritzie Cencil and Chito Gabutin with the Dementia Pledge Tree