Studies show that tapping into the left side of the brain can help people living with dementia create a dialogue to better express themselves. Bright Shadow uses the power of art and music to allow people diagnosed with and affected by dementia to live well and thrive.
Since giving £10,000 to Bright Shadow last year, they have been able to expand their Zest Communities programme. These sessions bring together groups of people with dementia every week for a creative session, which can consist of anything from dance to music to circus sessions with an expert.
Bright Shadow believes that harnessing a person’s creativity is critical in helping to alleviate some of the symptoms that people with dementia experience, most importantly isolation. Their Zest sessions allow participants to spend precious time together away from their roles as caregivers or care recipients.
We recently heard from Bright Shadow, who shared with us the impact of the sessions we have helped to fund over the past year. Following Zest sessions, at least nine in 10 people with dementia report feeling positive, having meaningfully engaged in the activities they offer.
The variety in sessions week to week helps boost their well-being, allowing beneficiaries to adopt different skills and areas of creativity. For example, visual artist Becky held sessions across a five-week block where participants worked in groups to create art pieces from different materials. Their ‘shop window’ exercise aimed to help attendees express what they think about Zest sessions by creating colourful hand-printed flags.
The sessions were a hit, and the flags created read phrases including ‘joyful’, ‘welcoming’, ‘relaxing’, ‘be part of something’, and ‘good company’. By stimulating their brains through art, Bright Shadow is helping to combat the loneliness experienced by people with dementia and give attendees a sense of purpose.
When the weather improved, groups were taken into the community gardens over six weeks to create nature-based, sustainable signage. Working amongst nature and with six different artists meant that participants got to experience new movement, song, visual art, poetry, and floristry.
Zest participants experienced a significant improvement in their happiness over the last three months. Those who reported feeling ‘good’ or ‘great’ increased from 42 per cent to 100 per cent following a session. In the same time, the number of participants who felt ‘awful’ or ‘not so good’ diminished from 19 per cent to 0 per cent!
It’s clear that the sessions we’re helping to fund at Bright Shadow are supporting people living with and affected by dementia. Through using their creativity in weekly group sessions, participants are provided with a much needed sense of community and a chance to feel competent and have fun. This all has a profound effect on people’s well-being and is incredibly empowering.