The Arts and Dementia: how might the arts contribute to the creation of more inclusive ageing societies?
Status / StageCompleted
Dates1 January 2019 -
1 April 2022
Duration (calculated)03 years 03 months
Funder/Grant study pageESRC
Contracted CentreRoyal Academy of Music
Contracted Centre Webpage
Principal InvestigatorJulian West
WHO CatergoriesModels across the continuum of care
Tools and methodologies for interventions
Disease TypeDementia (Unspecified)
CPEC Review Info
|Status / Stage
|03 years 03 months
|Funder/Grant study page
|Royal Academy of Music
|Contracted Centre Webpage
Japan is described as a ‘super-ageing society’, with 27% of people aged 65 or over (data: World Bank.) An additional challenge is the incidence of dementia; the World Alzheimer Report 2016 stated that 4.6 million Japanese are living with dementia, rising to 7 million by 2025. This demography is already paralleled in other countries in SE Asia, with populations in the West predicted to move towards the Japanese situation within the next 30 years. With no effective treatment or significant breakthroughs in prevention or cure for the dementias, more attention must be given to the ways in which people can be cared for. We must consider how ingrained public attitudes, dominated by the perception of those with dementia as a burden and unable to participate as citizens can be challenged. As stated in Japan’s Orange Plan (2015), we must ‘realize a society where one’s will shall be respected, and one can live in pleasant and familiar surroundings as long as possible.’
There is convincing evidence that demonstrates the importance of the arts for people with dementia and their effectiveness in enhancing wellbeing, health and cognitive function. Our interest is in how the co-creative arts can challenge the commonly held perception that people with dementia are non-creative and dependent. We are defining the co-creative arts as privileging process over product, valuing all contributions equally, and where there is no distinction between the producer and consumer. Co-creativity can promote agency and community and is also a powerful way of working for families and carers. We propose the establishment of an interdisciplinary network to conduct research into the ways in which co-creative work by artists, social scientists, care practitioners, and people living with dementias can help societies re-envision the place of those made vulnerable by their condition and experiences. We will draw on expertise developed in both the UK and Japan. UK research into arts practice for people with dementia is recognised to be relatively advanced. In Japan, the inclusion in society of those with dementia is recognised as an urgent issue with which academics, policy makers and the third sector are all engaging.
Our network will be distinguished by its inclusion of people with dementia, who at all stages will inform our activity. The Principle Investigator and Co-Investigator have extensive experience of working closely with people with dementias – a mode of working which colleagues in Japan are enthusiastic to learn from. The network will combine practical work with critical dialogue across disciplinary and cultural boundaries. It will be established through a series of exchanges, sharing practice and approaches first-hand. For instance, as part of their residency at Wellcome (www.createdoutofmind.org), the UK researchers developed a new way of gauging wellbeing and agency with people with dementia, using music and dance. This innovative work will be shaped and refined with our Japanese colleagues. The extent to which these measures and practices can be extrapolated into Japanese culture and society will be explored. UK scholars can learn from Japanese expertise in measuring the impact of arts-based interventions. We will also scope areas where collaborative research can be pursued. It is anticipated that new understandings of the ways in which the arts can help to re-envision more inclusive societies will emerge through these critical dialogues, producing outcomes that will inform and positively impact both policy and practice in dementia care. The findings of the network will be translated into outcomes that can be understood in both countries and have relevance beyond academia. Our findings will be disseminated in articles, online and in the media, paving the way for further collaborative research. Our proposal is an opportunity to influence practice and policy in the care of people living with dementia in ways which will have global significance.
Our interest is in how the co-creative arts can challenge the commonly held perception that people with dementia are non-creative and dependent. We are defining the co-creative arts as privileging process over product, valuing all contributions equally, and where there is no distinction between the producer and consumer.