Getting Arty – Shelford Dementia Support Group

3rd May 17

Carers and their loved ones with dementia have been getting arty at our Shelford Dementia Support Group – and their creations could be displayed at the new museum at Addenbrooke’s Hospital, Cambridge.

They rolled up their sleeves and pounded at a block of clay, creating figures and objects, under the guidance of Sally Todd and Steve Tiplady, from Cambridge Curiosity and Imagination.

Carers Trust Cambridgeshire provides activities, therapies, information and support for carers and their loved ones at the Shelford Group, enabling carers to have a break. But during this art session, the carer and the person they care for enjoyed a shared activity that was also therapeutic, resulting in lots of laughter and smiles.

Frank Ellis, 77, who has dementia, was proud of the vase he moulded from clay. He said: “I used to enjoy carpentry and loved doing this. It made me concentrate and focus on what I was doing. It was good exercise for my fingers as well and I found it therapeutic.” His partner and carer Bob Miles, 91, a novice at clay modelling, also found it a welcome diversion.

Annetta worked alongside husband Bill Noonan, who has dementia. She said: “I enjoyed the whole thing. I like coming here to socialise with other carers, but it was nice to do this activity with Bill. I have arthritis in my fingers and it was good to get my fingers moving.”

Sally said working with clay was a sensory experience and research has shown that art therapy has many benefits for those with dementia.

She said: “Clay is empowering and a wonderfully responsive material that can be shaped into anything. People with dementia find working with clay can be comforting and thought provoking.  It can be used to conjure up stories together and is a sensory trigger too, which may enable individuals to visualise a memory and turn it into a clay object.”

The objects will either be displayed in the museum in their clay form, or as photos.

Becca Browne, Carers Support Officer with Carers Trust Cambridgeshire, said the clay session was a fun and stimulating event.

“Everyone left smiling. It was lovely to see the carers and those they care for enjoying this activity together.  It’s a bonus and great achievement for them to think that their clay creations will be displayed at the museum at Addenbrooke’s hospital.”

Shelford Dementia Support Group meets 10am-12pm on the second and fourth Thursday of every month at the David Rayner Centre, Scotsdales Garden Centre, Great Shelford.  It provides an opportunity for carers to socialise together with their cared-for person, to enjoy activities, with music and dance very popular, as well as hosting professional speakers, including psychologists, psychiatrists and solicitors.  We currently have vacancies and welcome new families to join us.

If you would like further information, please call 01480 499090 or email [email protected].