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The Courtyard Centre for the Arts

The Courtyard is a vibrant arts centre that serves the whole of Herefordshire and the surrounding region.

11 April 2017
West Midlands
Arts, Recreation
Local Alliances:
Herefordshire Dementia Action Alliance

1. Action Plan

1. The National Dementia Declaration lists a number of outcomes that we are seeking to achieve for people with dementia and their carers. How would you describe your organisation’s role in delivering better outcomes for people with dementia and their carers?

The Courtyard is a vibrant arts centre that serves the whole of Herefordshire and the surrounding region, delivering arts projects to all sectors of the community. Since October 2010, there has been an Arts and Older People’s Project Co-ordinator, with the role of creating participatory arts projects for older people, many of whom live with dementia. We are currently working with world-renowned dementia expert, author and poet John Killick, who is The Courtyards’ poet in residence. This has allowed us to deliver our Dementia Poetry Project – In the Pink, which has enabled us to engage with hundreds of people with dementia and their cares across Herefordshire. Alongside this we are developing a range of specialist participatory arts projects that support those with dementia to live well within their communities.

These are the four main areas where we aim to achieve the outcomes stated in The National Dementia Declaration:

1. The venue

We aim to provide confidence and allow those with dementia to feel safe and supported when visiting The Courtyard.  To achieve this we deliver dementia awareness training for many front of house staff and stewards. In addition, we work with identified groups, those with dementia and their families to gather feedback on their experiences at The Courtyard.

2. Training for Professionals

Through the provision of training, we build stronger local communities who can support those with dementia to engage in the arts. Our training allows health care professionals, care staff and freelance artists to have the skills to facilitate participatory arts workshops for people with dementia.

3. Raising awareness

Working with people with dementia and their carers we create special events that raise awareness of dementia to the general public. We also promote the use of participatory arts for those with dementia and share our work with similar organisations.

4. Outreach work

The Courtyard is continuing to expand its outreach work to enable those with dementia to engage in the arts. We  take freelance arts practitioners out to rural locations across Herefordshire to allow those with dementia to take part in participatory arts based activities.

2. What are the challenges to delivering these outcomes from the perspective of your organisation?

Promoting understanding of dementia in our staff is an important challenge, so they know what to do should matters relating to dementia arise, as well as more general awareness and understanding by members of the public who use the theatre.

Another challenge will be to identify the ways in which we can promote what we are doing to those with dementia and their carers. Ensuring information and advice on how to access the facilities and special events available to them is easily accessible.

2. Actions

  • Consult with people with dementia and their carers

    We will work in partnership with people with dementia and their carers, so we can gain a true understanding of what is important to them. We will use their opinions and views to help us shape what activities and programmes we develop and deliver.


    Update - Third Quarter 2013

    We regularly consult with all those living with dementia and their carers who are already engage in The Courtyards activities, this allows us to improve our participatory programme, as well as understanding areas that people want us to develop.

    Alongside this we regularly visit the Alzheimer’s Society Memory Cafes to keep people up to date with our plans and to encourage new people to get involved.  As a result of our most recent visit, the majority of people we spoke to said that keeping fit, and dance activities would be of most interest to them. Therefore because of this we have recently set up two new dance projects, which aim to provide social dance activities for people with dementia and their carers, in a relaxed and social setting. 

  • Establish staff operations group

    We will set up a staff operations group, made up of key staff from every department to ensure that we can achieve the outcomes we have set out. Also allowing us to raise awareness of our commitment amongst all staff within the venue.  


    Update - Third Quarter 2013

    We now have an established staff steering group, which is made up of key members of staff from box office, front of house, marketing, education and outreach departments. This has allowed effective communication of our plans to be shared with members of staff. Staff are able to be kept up to date with future training sessions, as well as special events, and projects that are taking place. We have to date met three times, this platforms provides us with the time to look at new areas we wish to develop, and how this will feed into different departments. 

  • Hold live drawing event

    We plan to hold another live drawing event in May 2013 for Dementia Awareness Week and move the memory café to the Courtyard during May. The following year, we plan to do the same, while working with the Youth Theatre Director to produce a specific performance where students can work with people with dementia to create a production.


    Update - Second Quarter 2013

    In May 2013 we held our second live drawing event called ‘Remember Me’, this event organically became bigger and better than the previous year, attracting over 100 people throughout the duration of the day. The day provided a varied programme of activities, including poetry, drawing and singing. The three local memory cafes were bought to The Courtyard for the afternoon and over 70 people enjoyed lunch in the Courtyard’s cafe bar. Previous to this event the staff had received dementia awareness training, to ensure that people felt safe and supported whilst attending. The day not only offered a great day out for people living with dementia, but also provided a platform for people with dementia, volunteers, carers and health care professionals to come together and share ideas and experiences. Just a few of the comments from the day...

    ‘A day of togetherness – Thank you’

    ‘Good watching so many people chatting and being busy’

    ‘We enjoyed drawing a rainbow and flowers’

    ‘It’s good to see reminiscence during activity’

    ‘Today has been a lot of good fun, I hope that more events like this will happen’

    ‘Fantastic range of arts activities, something for everybody, really great to see so many groups of people coming together’

    ‘Very useful day of networking’

    ‘Good day had by all’

    ‘I enjoyed your performance(Emily Summers – All Turn) today immensely. Please do it again sometime with the emotional part you had to omit today. Absolutely fab’

    ‘Lovely to see old friends’

    ‘Crayoning took me back and lovely memories x’

    ‘It’s going really well, lots of interest and so well attended’

    ‘Enjoyed the day, but also good to form networks with other professionals’

    ‘Good day will inform people about next event’

    ‘Ted has enjoyed drawing this morning, he is having a great time’

    ‘Ted remembers the area (Courtyard) and shared memories’

    ‘A good day to share memories and experiences’

  • Provide staff training

    We will provide training for front of house staff, based on feedback from people with dementia and their carers


    Update - Third Quarter 2013

  • Take part in Dementia Friends programme

    The Arts and Older People’s Project Co-ordinator will take part in the Dementia Friends training programme, and provide additional training to staff, while remaining on hand 5 days a week to advise on situations that arise.


    Update - Third Quarter 2013

  • Promote awareness of dementia friendly venue

    We will work closely with local communities to ensure people with dementia are aware they can approach a member of staff, and expect assistance such as help to find their way around or a reminder about a performance.


    Update - Third Quarter 2013

  • Hold special co-production

    The Courtyard will hold a co-production with Vamos Theatre called ‘Finding Joy’, an emotive story of somebody who has dementia, which was developed using experiences from people with dementia.


    Update - Third Quarter 2013

  • Provide venue for support groups

    We will provide a venue for the local Alzheimer’s carers support group to meet in a relaxed environment, whilst working with them to gain an insight on what changes would make the venue more accessible to those with dementia.


    Update - Third Quarter 2013

  • Be a leader in developing dementia friendly theatres

    We are committed to sharing our work with other arts organisations, and being a leader in developing dementia friendly theatres


    Update - Third Quarter 2013