The arts in health and social care

Dementia is a global public health priority with no cure and limited medical treatment. We lead interdisciplinary research with a focus of the arts in dementia care. Through a combination of training, public events and the success of our online practitioners’ guide, “Dementia & Imagination”, for arts and health service delivery (with over 10,000 downloads) many people with dementia and their carers have benefited. Our research showed how arts interventions improved the quality of life of people affected by dementia, with £5 of social value generated for every £1 invested. We evidence improvements to care and service provision, public perceptions and influence on public policy.

The impact of our research is recognised in a case study submitted to the Research Excellence Framework 2021, where the best quality research is independently examined by an expert panel.

Example: The research is reaching people living with dementia and practitioners/providers. We know this because:


Research projects:

  • ‘Creative Conversations': An exploratory study of an arts in health approach to embedding person-centred care and improving communication between care staff and people living with dementia.’  Health and Care Research Wales Social Care Award, £203,286.  1st October 2016 to 31st May 2018 (Kat Algar-Skaife lead investigator, with Gill Windle, John Killick (Dementia Positive), and Flintshire County Council Social Services).

This project explored whether the arts can be used as a tool for helping dementia care staff understand more about dementia and enhance their interactions with the people they care for. For information click here.

Creative Conversations Lay Summary: English / Welsh

  • Dementia and Imagination: Connecting communities and developing well-being through socially engaged visual arts practice. Arts and Humanities Research Council, £1.2m.  July 2013 to February 2017 (Gill Windle lead investigator, with Clive Parkinson, Andrew Neman, Vanessa Burholt, Bob Woods, Victoria Tischler, Dave O’Brien, Michael Baber).  D&I website.

Research Summaries:

Theoretical basis of art programmes (Welsh)

Effectiveness of art programmes (Welsh)

Economic analysis of art programmes (Welsh)


Dementia and Imagination: a mixed-methods protocol for arts and science research

  • Evaluation of ‘Zest for Life’, a specialised arts programme for people living with young onset dementia. Age Connects Torfaen, £24,952.  January 2019 to July 2021 (PI Kat-Algar-Skaife).
  • The Imagination Café. Arts and Humanities Research Council Follow on Fund for Impact and Engagement. £100,000.  1st January 2018 to 31st December 2018 (GW Co-investigator, with Clive Parkinson, Andrew Newman and Victoria Tischler, lead).
  • 'Created out of Mind’: Shaping perceptions of dementia through art and science.  The Wellcome Trust Residency Hub, £1,087,059.00.  October 2016 for 22 months (Gill Windle, Co-director, with Seb Crutch (lead), Charlie Murphy, Julian West, Philip Ball, Fergus Walsh).
  • Independent evaluation of cARTrefu: A national arts in care homes participatory and mentoring programme.  Age Cymru, £24,874.  January 2015 to October 2017 (Kat Algar-Skaife lead applicant).  Evaluation report launched at National Assembly for Wales in October 2017. Link to reports (Welsh) (English)