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The Moment of a Diagnosis

In this video Damian Hebron explains the value of arts-based practices in the time that immediately follows a diagnosis of dementia.
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I think while there have been really huge steps and a great proliferation of creative activity for people with dementia, a lot of the time, historically, that has focused on care homes and occasionally for people whose dementia may be quite advanced. I think where there’s a real opportunity and a really under-explored area is in that period immediately after diagnosis. So a lot of people who receive a dementia diagnosis experience significant ill health. Often they experience depression.
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The moment that people receive a dementia diagnosis can feel like a huge shock and an incredible loss, a loss of all the things that they could have done, their ambitions, their hopes, where actually, people who live well with dementia often draw on the huge assets that they have in their lives and in their communities. Sometimes the realisation of those assets in the period after a diagnosis can take some time. I’m really interested in how the arts can contribute to speeding up that process, helping people more quickly realise the assets that they have in their lives and that are available to them in their communities.
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London Arts in Health Forum has just done recently a pilot project in collaboration with Mersey Care in Liverpool about trying to embed the arts in the post-diagnosis support sessions that they offer to people who’ve received a diagnosis. Often, post-diagnostic support services can feel quite dry and maybe don’t help people feel that they can take a creative, person-led, agency-led approach to their diagnosis. I think what the arts can do, and what we are trying to pilot, is by creating a more proactive, engaging way of mapping people’s assets– the things that they can draw on in that period post-diagnosis– to try and give people more of an agency over how they might manage and live well with their dementia.

In this video Damian Hebron explains the value of arts-based practices in the time that immediately follows a diagnosis of dementia.

This addresses:

  • Some of the common emotional responses that often accompany a new dementia diagnosis.

  • How people living with a new diagnosis of dementia can benefit from taking advantage of arts-based assets available to them in their communities, incorporating these into their post-diagnostic support.

  • How the London Arts in Health Forum is encouraging people with a new diagnosis of dementia to take on an element of agency in learning to live well with their condition.

People adjust to their dementia diagnosis in very different ways. If you are living with a dementia yourself, or are a friend or family member of somebody who is, how did you adjust to news of the diagnosis? With regards to taking an active role in adjusting to living with the condition, what learning would you want to share with somebody who may be going through the process now?

CREDITS We would like to thank the Cambridge University Hospital Dance Project for providing the supplementary footage for this video.
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Dementia and the Arts: Sharing Practice, Developing Understanding and Enhancing Lives

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