Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Older People Have Fantastic Stories ...I Just Want to Help Share Them; Creative Graduate's Using Her Skills to Help Dementia Sufferers

Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Older People Have Fantastic Stories ...I Just Want to Help Share Them; Creative Graduate's Using Her Skills to Help Dementia Sufferers

Article excerpt

Byline: SARAH JUDD

AN INSPIRATIONAL Teesside graduate has made a breakthrough in helping people with dementia carry on leading fulfilled lives.

Claire Ford, 23, from Great Ayton, got the opportunity of a lifetime when she won a Winston Churchill Travelling Fellowship, to take her idea to introduce creative arts as a tonic to people suffering from dementia, to America.

The fellowship saw the art graduate travel to Milwaukee in the USA to explore her idea for a "creative ageing" programme and demonstrate her vision that people with dementia could benefit from participating in the arts.

After a successful trip, Claire is now hoping to promote similar artistic classes in care homes and households back in the UK.

Claire, who first became interested in working with people with dementia as a volunteer for the Alzheimer's Society at the age of 14, said: "From that point, at 14, I thought, 'it's fantastic working with these people'.

"After doing my art degree at Manchester Met I didn't want to be an artist and combined my art with working with young offenders, people with special needs and dementia - more hard-to-reach groups. But it's dementia I'm most interested in and it's that which gives me a big buzz.

"I like all the stories older people have and the fantastic characters."

Through her work, Claire has learned that as cognitive ability deteriorates with dementia, creativity increases, enabling new ways of communication.

Claire said: "This generation has given and taught us so much, so now it's time to give back to our elders. …

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