CREATIVE DEMENTIA SESSIONS - FEEDBACK Weekly Dementia Sessions at Hebden Bridge Town Hall, Calderdale. We have been using creativity in dementia care for nearly 10 years. This latest initiative works with the Alzheimer’s Society to offer sessions that are locally-based and accessible. We are also using these sessions to bring new volunteers into the sector. Here, one of our volunteers explains what our approach really means for the people who attend: “I have been a volunteer with Verd de Gris since the creative dementia sessions began at the Town Hall in Hebden Bridge where I work part time. I asked if I could volunteer because their work is inclusive, community focused and creative. Sharon spoke with great passion about their previous projects and I just knew I had to work with them. Words don't do justice to the beautiful transformations which occur at each session. Something as simple as eye contact or a smile lift the individual from the inside out and whilst this may seem small in terms of recording outcomes, it is is huge for the individual and their carers. Often we hold on to the past with such gusto that we forget that all that really matters is where we are now, in the moment and even if those moments are fleeting, for the individuals in the group new experiences are shared. It is absolutely extraordinary that the simplicity of the concept, i.e the creative session and sharing poetry, music, singing and stories can produce such beautiful shared experiences which benefit all of those involved in the sessions. I have literally been reduced to tears (of joy) when one man who appeared very withdrawn suddenly burst into song when we played Louis Armstrong's Wonderful World. It was as if this song had switched on a light and he became illuminated and animated and sang every word. I feel such privilege to have witnessed that moment. Then there was a lady who was quite agitated but then became clam whilst strumming a musical instrument or the man who had never experienced painting or poetry at school painted the most beautiful flowers. All of this seemingly simple but producing beauty of such quality that my own life is richer for it. I could be accused of hyperbole and that's where I began, with the limitations of language to express our innermost feelings, but this is where the magic really happens. Because, for those individuals either at the early stages of dementia where there is fear and frustration, or those who are much more withdrawn, the barrier of language is lifted to reveal new modes of expression and where painting, music or poetry and the creative sessions become a space for them to be themselves.” Paula Sutherland 09/07/2013 This project is funded by South West Yorkshire Partnership NHS Trust Creative Minds and Calderdale NHS.