Representatives from health, education and the arts joined together to launch the innovative new Arts for Health Partnership Programme in Schull.

Arts for Health initiative launched

The launch of the Arts for Health initiative's groundbreaking arts and health strategy at Schull Community Hospital last week was brimming with creative energy, with local musicians and artists including Liz Clark and Eva Coyle coming together to mark the occasion with residents, staff, and visitors.

The five year strategy aims to improve the lives of residents of community hospitals, older persons attending day care centres, and their family carers across West Cork by nurturing and developing participants’ creative interests with one-to-one and group sessions in art, dance, storytelling, filmmaking and music.

The strategy focuses on increasing access to the programme and developing its artistic offering - providing an inclusive way of working to support the increasing number of people living with dementia across communities. The strategy also outlines actions to include creative supports for family and professional carers in healthcare, in the community and at home.

Roisin Walsh, Director of Nursing, Schull Community Hospital spoke on the impact that the programme has had on its participants: “Brought to us twice weekly, by the wonderful artists over the past 18 years, we have witnessed the value these sessions provide our participants. Foot-tapping, eyes smiling, voices singing, hands clapping, friends chatting the joy of music, song, stories, painting – clearly captures how enriching this programme is for all who participate."

As a participant in the new Creative Carers strand of the programme, Bríd McAuliffe from Clonakilty expressed her support, saying: “My husband is so happy after his music sessions and the joy it brings into our home is immeasurable. Long may this programme continue in West Cork.”

Mayor of the County of Cork, Cllr Frank O’Flynn congratulated all involved in the programme. “Art is not just a form of expression or entertainment, but is also a powerful tool for physical, mental, and emotional well-being. It has the remarkable ability to heal, inspire, and unite us as a community. I look forward to seeing the next chapter of the Arts for Health programme bring positivity and new experiences to many more participants.”

According to recent data, there are over 119,000 people over the age of 65 residing in the Cork and Kerry region. Nationally, this figure is expected to increase by 24.6% by 2051. In the same period, the number of people over 80 is expected to increase by 270%.