Garnet Ward
Highgate Mental Health Centre

Yukako Shibata, Harvest, 2014, Oil paint on gesso, plaster, polystyrene

Yukako Shibata, Harvest, 2014, Oil paint on gesso, plaster, polystyrene

Richard Wentworth, Sutapa Biswas, Tim A Shaw, 
Aimee Parrott, Michael O’Reilly, Yukako Shibata, Sue Dunkley

Hospital Rooms is collaborating with Camden and Islington NHS Foundation Trust on a project for their Garnet Ward in Highgate Mental Health Centre. We will commission a series of dementia friendly, artistic environments for the  14 bed unit for older people (65+) with dementia and other challenges. We will combine the expertise of arts and health professionals with dementia care residents, carers and staff in the design and implementation of this project.

A series of recent reports have resoundingly highlight the benefits of visual and participatory arts for older people in mental health settings. In particular, the arts have been shown to (1): 

  • Improve alertness, happiness, positive emotional state and independence
  • Improve social interaction, verbal and non verbal communication and improve face name recognition
  • Decrease fear, anxiety and agitation
  • Aid bonding between service users and caregivers 

By enabling an intergenerational co-production process between world class artists and the unit community, we hope to empower residents to meaningfully contribute to the project. Each artist will capitalise on the older residents’ own skills, knowledge and experiences to guide their work, while also referring to existing research in the area of dementia environments and the King’s Fund EHE Environmental Assessment Tool. This process will also ensure that all designs and artworks will be entirely fit for purpose (hygiene, safety, security, durability) for this particular mental healthcare setting.

In addition, the family of celebrated artist Sue Dunkley has donated a piece to Hospital Rooms for display in the Garnet Ward. Dunkley is in the later stages of dementia and has recently moved to a local care home. She recently had a solo exhibition at Alison Jacques Gallery, which presented a series of significant drawings and paintings from 60’s to the 80’s.

We will also programme a series of 6 tailored workshops that complement and illuminate the art that is installed and enable creative activity. These workshops will be designed to be suitable for older people who have dementia or other challenges and we will accommodate different levels of ability. These workshops can also be attended by carers.

By bringing about creative collaboration with the wider community and facilitating a social environment with rich interactions, this project has the potential to effect a radical change agenda in the way care and welfare are viewed and delivered. 

The project is generously funded by Arts Council England, Garfield Weston Foundation and through the generosity of Hospital Rooms’ friends and supporters. We are also grateful to Colart who has donated high quality artist materials for the project through their brand Liquitex.

1. The validity of the arts as an effective and legitimate contributor to healthcare in older people, delivering benefits across a wide variety of health priorities, has been corroborated in four major evidence reviews in recent years that summarise 60 international peer-reviewed research studies. These included Age and Opportunity, 2006; Cantora-Binkley et al., 2010; Baring Foundation, 2011; Mental Health Foundation 2011. 

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Camden and Islington NHS Foundation Trust: Camden and Islington NHS Foundation Trust (C&I) provides high quality, safe and innovative care to our patients in the community, in their homes or in hospital. They provide services for adults of working age, adults with learning difficulties, and older people in the London area. They currently deliver the majority of care to residents in the London Boroughs of Camden and Islington.  However, they also provide substance misuse services in Westminster, and a substance misuse and psychological therapies service to people living in Kingston.

The Trust is also a member of University College London Partners (UCLP), one of the world’s leading academic health science partnerships. In addition they have specialist programmes which provide help and treatment for:

  • Veterans living in London
  • Young people caught in the cycle of gang culture
  • Older people suffering from dementia and other age related mental health conditions

Garfield Weston Foundation: The Garfield Weston Foundation is a family-founded grant-making trust established in 1958.  Since it began the Foundation has donated over £960 million to charities across the UK.  In the last financial year, the Foundation donated over £60 million.  From small community organisations to large national institutions, the Foundation supports a broad range of charities and activities that make a positive impact in the communities in which they work.  Over 1,500 charities across the UK benefit each year from the Foundation’s grants.

Arts Council England: champions, develops and invests in artistic and cultural experiences that enrich people’s lives. They support a range of activities across the arts, museums and libraries – from theatre to digital art, reading to dance, music to literature, and crafts to collections. Great art and culture inspires us, brings us together and teaches us about ourselves and the world around us. In short, it makes life better. Between 2010 and 2015, they invested £1.9 billion of public money from government and an estimated £1.1 billion from the National Lottery to help create these experiences for as many people as possible across the country.