Connecting through art

bantry 1

Posted on: 15th January, 2014

Category: Features

Contributor: Mary O'Brien

Mary O’Brien visits St Joseph’s Ward in Bantry General Hospital and sees the enjoyment that some of the older residents living with dementia get out of painting.

There were an estimated 41,740 people in Ireland living with dementia in 2013. By the time we reach 2041, it it expected that 147,015 in this country will have dementia. Even more worrying than this statistic is the fact that many people living with dementia are undiagnosed.

Some of the issues faced by people with dementia are memory problems, communication differences, perceptual differences and poor judgement. A person with dementia does not lose their rhythm, humour, senses or longterm memory. They still need to be touched, loved, appreciated and to feel safe.

“As we become more emotional and less cognitive, it’s the way you talk to us, not what you say that we will remember. We know the feeling, but don’t know the plot. Your smile, your laugh and your touch are what we will connect with. Empathy heals. Just love us as we are.  We’re still in here, in emotion and spirit, if only YOU could find US.” Bryden C. 2005, p.138. Dancing with Dementia: Jessica Kingsley Publishers.



For someone with dementia, social interaction is very important, which is why the Arts for Health Partnership Programme recently launched in West Cork plays a vital role in the health and social care environment for older people.

On St Joseph’s Ward in Bantry General Hospital, residents with dementia celebrate their creativity in a weekly session with Activities Co-ordinator Sarah Cairns and Artist Practitioner Sharon Dipity. A recent gathering involved painting from aerial photography. Adrigole man Denis’ impression from a picture of the Fastnet Lighthouse shows great talent with the brush. Some of the other residents prefer using combs and stamps to spread the paint, as it’s a more freeing movement. Stefanie, age 97, is one of the older participants but still gets stuck in. Kathleen from Kilgarriffe, who is completely deaf but still sings beautifully, loves the group painting sessions. Maureen from Coomhola suffers from MS and doesn’t have the use of her hands anymore. Diagnosed with the condition 25 years ago, she started painting and writing using her mouth three years ago. She thought she’d never write her name again. Joe, a taxi driver from Glengarriff, has recently joined the ward on respite. From a family of turf cutters, Joe talked about the brown and black turf and how they used to cut the turf with a ‘Slain’.

Sarah works on St Joseph’s Ward in Bantry Hospital three days a week. She is also part of the training team with Sonas apc, a training and resource organization, centred on non-pharmacological intervention in dementia care.

“People living with dementia are often very misunderstood,” says Sarah. “You should never contradict a person with dementia. If they ask what time the train is due in, your answer should be along the lines of ‘oh, is there a train?’. If someone with dementia is looking for their mother, they are reaching out for care and love. It is very important to make a person with dementia feel safe.”

Sarah goes on to explain how many women with dementia usually feel they should be at home in the afternoon, ie taking care of their family. A man who has worked in the Council all his life might feel anxious every day around the time his breaks used to take place, usually 11am and 3pm.

“Touch is very important for someone with dementia,” says Sarah, “which is why we do doll and dog therapy. There aren’t many opportunity to give love in here, which is why just holding a doll can give a person with dementia such pleasure.”

As for the art activity, the testimonies of participants speak for it — “I love doing it. It passes a piece of the day away” and ‘”it made me feel good, it lifted me,” were some comments.

Arts for Health Partnership Programme is made up of four bodies – West Cork Arts Centre, HSE South, Cork ETB and Cork County Council. The Arts for Health Partnership Programme is a strategic and sustainable response to an ageing population, which enables choice, social inclusion and equitable access to arts for older people in West Cork.

The arts programme maintains a high number of stakeholders over a wide geographically dispersed rural location. Five Community Hospitals; Skibbereen, Schull, Dunmanway, Clonakilty, Castletownbere and five Day Care Centres; Skibbereen, Dunmanway, Clonakilty, Castletownbere, Bantry, and Bantry General Hospital, Care of the Elderly Unit currently avail of the service managed by West Cork Arts Centre.

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Visiting restrictions in place at Bantry General Hospital due to Flu Presentations

Strict visitor restrictions have been put in place with immediate effect at Bantry General Hospital due to the number of patients who have presented with flu like symptoms.

In the interest of patient care and in order to restrict the spread of the flu virus within the hospital, it is necessary with immediate effect to ban all visitors to Bantry General Hospital, with the exception of following: critically ill patients are restricted to one visitor per critically ill patient and confined to visiting times only, and attendance at the Medical Assessment Unit (MAU) and Local Injury Unit (LIU) should only take place if absolutely necessary, only one relative per patient attending these areas.

The elderly, children, pregnant women or young adults, those with chronic illnesses or vulnerable others are advised not to visit. Outpatient, Day care services and routine hospital admissions are not affected.

All infection control measures are in place and every effort is being made to manage and contain the spread of the flu virus.

People with flu like symptoms are advised to contact their GP by phone in the first instance and avoid presenting at the Emergency Department at Bantry General Hospital.

Bantry hospital staff are asking people to think about all their care and treatment options and keep ED services for the patients who need them most. Others with a less serious illness can be treated by their GP or out of hours GP service where their GP can refer them to an Assessment Unit the following day if required.
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8th January, 2018  ·  

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What makes Christmas special? Children and adults we support, our incredible staff, families and supporters - these are the people who make our organisation so special every single day, but especially at Christmas! Meet some of them here... Thank you to the wonderful team at AV3 Media who kindly produced this video for us as a Christmas gift! To make a Christmas donation today, go to We believe that together we can do great things and with your support we can do so much more! Please SHARE our video so that more people can learn about the amazing things that happen at Cope Foundation! Evening Echo; Irish Examiner; The Southern Star; The Avondhu; Cork Independent; West Cork Times; West Cork People - The Best Free Read in West Cork; Bandon Opinion/The Opinion; Vale Star; East Cork Journal; Cork Chamber - Faces of Cork Business; Cork City FC; Cork Institute of Technology - CIT; University College Cork; Corks RedFM 104-106; The KC Show Corks 96 FM; Cork's 96FM; Cork's Best; C103 Cork; Cork Airport; Cork Opera House: The Everyman; Cork County Council; County Cork; Cork City Council; CorkLike; CCCahoots; Cork On Ice; Glow Cork; CIT Cork School of Music; RTÉ Today; Ciaran Bermingham - Actor; Rob & Marian Heffernan; John Spillane; Ger Wolfe; Eimear O'Brien PR; Jack O Rourke; Theo Dorgan; Mahon Point Shopping Centre; Blackpool Shopping Centre & Retail Park

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Are you alone or do you know someone who will be alone this Christmas? If so, then we here at Casey’s would like to make your day that little bit easier. We are offering a full Christmas dinner on us! Christmas dinners can be collected Christmas Eve from 12:30pm - 8:30pm. Wishing everyone a very happy Christmas from everyone at Casey’s

15th December, 2017  ·  

RTÉ Raidió na Gaeltachta’s has just announced its Christmas schedule and it features several programmes of interest to listeners in West Cork.

On New Year’s Day at 12.08 pm we’ll hear highlights from the Éigse Dhiarmuidín Festival that took place in West Cork in early December, remembering musician and broadcaster Diarmuid Ó Súilleabháin. An Nollaig ar Oileán Chléire is an archive show presented by Mícheál Ó Sé on Wednesday 27 December at 5.30 pm about Christmas on Cape Clear and on Friday 29 December and 5 January at 7 pm, Peadar Ó Riada will bring us very special editions of his Cuireadh chun Ceoil programme from Múscraí. Keep an ear out!
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REMINDER: An Garda Siochana are hosting a Retail Crime Prevention Meeting, to be held at 7pm on Wednesday 29th November 2017. This meeting will be held in the Munster Arms Hotel in Bandon. This meeting is one of a series being held across the West Cork Garda Division, in association with Operation Thor, the Garda National Anti-Crime Strategy. The purpose of the meeting is to increase the cooperation between Gardai and the retail sector, ensuring that the current low levels of crime in the locality extends past the busy approaching Christmas season. The meeting will be addressed by the local Crime Prevention Officer, Sergeant Ian O’ Callaghan, who will discuss burglary prevention, shoplifting, fraud, and cybercrime. There will be a particular focus on cash handling and cash exposure of businesses in the run up to the Christmas shopping period. All aspects of commercial crime will be discussed, and we would strongly urge all businesses to make a special effort to attend on the evening.

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