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The arts in dementia care education: a developmental study

Hannah Zeilig (School of Rehabilitation Sciences, University of East Anglia, Norwich, UK and Senior Research Fellow, University of the Arts, London, UK)
Fiona Poland (University of East Anglia, Norwich, UK)
Chris Fox (University of East Anglia, Norwich, UK)
John Killick (Dementia Positive, Hebden Bridge, UK)

Journal of Public Mental Health

ISSN: 1746-5729

Article publication date: 16 March 2015




The purpose of this paper is to outline the first stage of an innovative developmental study addressing the educational and emotional needs of dementia care home staff using arts-based materials.


The arts workshop was developed using a mixed methods approach. This included ethnographic observation within a dementia care home, in-depth interviews with senior care home managers, a thematic analysis of focus groups and the development of a comic. At all stages, the multi-disciplinary project team collaborated closely with the care home staff. A comprehensive literature review of the policy, practice and academic background to dementia workforce education provided a contextual framework for the study. Perspectives from the medical humanities informed the project.


Despite the high prevalence of people living with dementia in care homes, there is a lack of appropriate training for the workforce that provides their care. This study found that an arts-based workshop offering an interactive mode of education was an effective way to engage this workforce. The workshop empowered participants to recognise their skills and focus on person-centred care; reflecting current recommendations for dementia care.

Research limitations/implications

The workshop was delivered in a single dementia care home and therefore findings may not be generalisable. In addition, the management did not take a direct part in the delivery of the workshop and therefore their views are not included in this study.

Practical implications

The arts-based approach can offer a means of engaging the dementia care workforce in education linked to their experience of caring.


The paper identifies the gap in relevant education for the dementia care workforce and outlines one possible way of addressing this gap using the arts.



Zeilig, H., Poland, F., Fox, C. and Killick, J. (2015), "The arts in dementia care education: a developmental study", Journal of Public Mental Health, Vol. 14 No. 1, pp. 18-23.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2015, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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