Age & Opportunity brings the benefits of arts participation to over 250 older people in care settings nationwide

Age & Opportunity brings the benefits of arts participation to over 250 older people in care settings nationwide

Age & Opportunity is pleased to announce the six artists and care settings who will participate in their 2019 Artist(s) in Residence in a Care Setting initiative. 2019 marks the third year of this project which aims to improve access to rich arts experiences for older people in care settings, many of whom are living with Dementia. 

Research shows that people who engage with the arts benefit from a significant boost to their self-esteem and overall quality of life and that there is tremendous potential for participatory art to improve the quality of life for older people in general, as well as those older people who are most excluded including those with dementia [1]. However, older people are not targeted as beneficiaries as much as they should be. As life expectancy improves so does the incidence of dementia. Presently there are over 55,000 people in Ireland living with the disease and another half a million people (mainly family members) who are directly affected by it.

These six residencies will bring the benefits of arts participation to up to 250 older people who either live in or visit care facilities and will also positively impact on over 500 people, when we include all those involved - residents, staff, families, artists, and the wider community.

Printmaker Aoife Barrett will invite residents at Raheen Community Hospital to participate in a series of conversations, bookmaking and printmaking activities to promote creativity, storytelling and the exchange of knowledge.


Visual artist John Conway aims to engage the service users of the Naas Day Care Centre over a cup of tea and simple art exercises. In doing so Conway aims to draw out the stories of their life experiences and document them for posterity as part of their project.


Photographer Brian Cooney aims to draw on the existing photography of the residents of St John’s Community Hospital in Sligo to help weave their personal stories. He will also make a new body of work that will be his personal response to his time in the care facility.


Based in the Clonskeagh Community Hospital in Dublin multimedia artist Cliona Ni Laoi will use projections to create immersive visual collages using light and sound. In turn this art project will feed into Cliona’s research about the therapeutic benefits of audiovisual installations in dementia care setting.


Multimedia artist Andy Parsons will be based in the Killybegs Community Hospital. Andy’s project will take as its starting point the wealth of craft skills of the people of Donegal. His project aims to record the hands of these people, capturing the ingenuity, resourcefulness and creativity of our older generation.

Using the mid-century buildings of Castleisland as a starting point visual artist Ciara Rodgers will engage the attendees of Castleisland Day Care Centre in a conversation about the history of the buildings in their area for a project in charcoal drawing.


Age & Opportunity is the national organisation that provides a range of opportunities for older people who want to get more involved in arts and culture, sport and physical activity, education & personal development

Through funding provided by the Creative Ireland Programme’s National Creativity Fund, HSE National Lottery Funding (CHO areas 4 & 7), and the Arts Council, Age & Opportunity they have developed this initiative which aims to make arts intrinsic to life-in-care settings for older people, particularly those who live outside major urban areas. 

Creativity and cultural participation are key contributors to wellbeing in older age.  This project seeks to increase the awareness among policy makers, health and social care providers and the general public (including older people themselves) of the potential of participatory art to influence on the quality of life of older people in residential care, with positive impacts on health, psychological well-being and autonomy. 

The Age & Opportunity Artist(s) in Residence in a Care Setting initiative, creates an opportunity for the staff and older people living in or attending publicly-funded care settings to engage creatively with an artist in a nurturing and inclusive environment.  It showcases the value of creative activity to the staff and broadens the base of skilled artists working in the area of arts and health.

“I am delighted that Creative Ireland through its National Creativity Fund can support an important project like this which will actively improve the lives of some of our communities most vulnerable people”. Josepha Madigan: Minister of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht

Commenting on the residency programme, Tara Byrne, Arts Programme Manager with Age & Opportunity said:

“Although access to the arts and creativity underpin this residency initiative, we know that the arts has a profoundly beneficial influence on our general quality of life and psychological well-being. The person-centred characteristics of the arts in particular, can take on a critical role in enhancing our sense of identity as we grow older, and possibly experience feelings of marginalization or invisibility arising from our age, health or social status.”

Age & Opportunity gratefully acknowledges the support of our Arts programme funders, the Arts Council, the Creative Ireland Programme’s National Creativity Fund, and the HSE.

The artist residency initiative is also supported by the Waterford Healing Arts Trust (WHAT), Creative Life, Mercer’s Institute for Successful Ageing (MISA) and the Dementia Services Information and Development Centre (DSIDC) both based in MISA, St. James’s Hospital.  These partner organisations will offer their expert perspective on the artist residency steering group and provide mentoring and support during the programme.

Main image: 

Image by Anthony Edwards, courtesy of St. James's Hospital,

Location: of image Mercer’s Institute for Successful Ageing / MISA Foyer.

Location of  introduction lectures took place in Creative Life area, Mercer’s Institute For Successful Ageing in St. James’s Hospital.