"D-iagnosis" A guest blog by Veronica Franklin Gould (Arts 4 Dementia)

"D-iagnosis", an image of two faces representing anguish after a dementia diagnosis, and the potential for engaging with the arts to create a more positive state of mind

“D-IAGNOSIS! Arts to Preserve Wellbeing” has been commissioned from artist Jane Frere by Arts 4 Dementia. It is currently touring UK museums and conferences and used as a catalyst for co-ordinating local culture, health and wellbeing meetings to advance social prescribing to arts early in the diagnostic process for dementia, and to get people talking about their dementia concerns, to combat isolating stigma and trauma of diagnosis, preserve identity, sense of purpose and social life in the community.

Now that every GP has access to an NHS link worker, who can empower patients to choose their rehabilitative social prescription, GPs and link workers are being urged to refer patients to weekly arts programmes early in the diagnostic process. Sharing cultural interests with others facing similar challenges, the shock of diagnosis will be lessened, as they co-create dance, drama performances, art exhibitions, and give concerts, despite dementia, preserving identity and enjoying life in the community for years longer.

These two heads represent a single figure; on the left representing private fear of dementia, comforted by the hand of the figure whose life is enriched by artistic stimulation, with a wide range of cultural choices. The central eye negotiates waves of dementia to reach the arts.

D-IAGNOSIS! is designed to form the backdrop for an afternoon programme, a local culture health and wellbeing forum, with the first half hour a private view for people living the experience of diagnostic testing or with a recent dementia diagnosis – an opportunity for dialogue, poetry, art, music, dance, drama. There are a few words to trigger responses.

Having launched at Tate Exchange, followed by Canterbury and soon, Bath, for an effective cross-sector forum, we recommend inviting county council cabinet leads in culture, and public health, a local academic specialising in arts for health as chair, with GP, link workers, memory service, Alzheimer’s Society and Age UK and encourage all to offer social prescribing on the point of referral to diagnostic testing, otherwise on diagnosis.

Arts 4 Dementia has developed a workshop model to accompany the image to help explore the diagnostic experience. Please get in touch with the organisation to find out more, via A4D's site.

Arts 4 Dementia also provides...


Arts 4 Dementia provides full-day training for arts teams, link workers and arts and medical students. (www.arts4dementia.org.uk  info@arts4dementia.org.uk)


Reawakening Integrated, Arts and Heritage (2017)

Music Reawakening (2015)

Reawakening the Mind (2013)


Veronica Franklin Gould FRSA AMRSPH founded Arts 4 Dementia (A4D) in 2011 to develop weekly programmes for early-stage dementia at arts venues, training, best practice conferences and reports. Reawakening the Mind (2012-13) won the London 2012 Inspire Mark and Positive Breakthrough in Mental Health Dementia Award 2013. On publication of Music Reawakening (2015), Veronica was appointed A4D president. Her regional guide, Reawakening Integrated: Arts & Heritage (2017), maps arts opportunities for dementia and, working with Dr Trish Vella-Burrows, aligns arts within NHS England’s Well Pathway for Dementia. Veronica leads A4D’s social prescribing programme.



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