By Yasmin Noone
People with dementia, their carers, artists, and aged and community care staff are invited to nominate an individual or organisation for an International Dementia Excellence Award (IDEAwards) in the dementia and the arts category.
The new arts and dementia category, introduced into the IDEAwards program for the first time ever this year, aims to acknowledge indiviudals and organisations who use the arts to improve the quality of life of people living with demenita and their carers.
But interested applicants only have until Monday 23 April to make a nomination and be in the running to receive a coveted dementia and the arts gong.
Executive director of Arts and Health Australia (AHA) and founding director of the Australian Centre for Creative Ageing, Margret Meagher, said the new category will recognise both Australian and global projects and people who have used various art mediums to positivley promote dementia and encourage people living with the condition to live life to the fullest.
“Imagination is one of the last areas of cognitive decline to go [when someone is living with dementia],” Ms Meagher said.
“Creative expression can enable people with dementia to reconnect with themselves and get sense of self-worth.
“…In Australia, there are many examples of best practice programs around arts and dementia in aged care facilities, hospices and community service organisations through local government.
“Some don’t have a lot of money but are extremely powerful in terms of supporting people to have a better quality of life.
“At the end of the day, that is the core reason for these programs – to improve the quality of life of people living with dementia and their carers.
“If you can improve the quality of life of just one person, then that’s magic.”
The IDEAwards, organised by the Dementia Services Development Centre, University of Stirling,UK in conjunction with Hammond Care, will celebrate the important efforts undertaken to support people with dementia internationally, and are a show-case of innovation and good practice.
It also provides a unique chance for the dementia support efforts of Australian individuals and organisations to be recognised at an international level.
“Small and large art/dementia projects are welcome to apply in the dementia and the arts category. Small projects can become bigger projects. Local community groups often look at art projects in other areas and say, ‘That’s fantastic. Why don’t we do that in our area?’
“These awards create a great opportunity for people and organisations to focus on an arts and dementia program that is very effective, that can be replicated in other areas that are also cost-efficient.”
This year’s IDEAs will include three Australian-specific awards, covering team of the year, employee of the year and volunteer of the year.
Award winners will be announced at a ceremony at Darling Harbour, Sydney, on June 28. Registrations to attend the awards night are now open.
The international judging panel includes Prof June Andrews, Australian dementia advocate Sue Pieters-Hawke, Dr Marie-Jo Guisset Martinez of Fondation Médéric Alzheimer, France, and the CEO of Alzheimer’s Australia, Glenn Rees.
The awards are part of the Risky Business International Dementia Conference, presented by the International Dementia Partnership which includes the UK Dementia Services Development Centre and HammondCare’s Dementia Centre, which will run from June 28-29 in Sydney.
The conference is aimed at all those who support people with dementia, including doctors, nurses, social workers, allied health professionals, service commissioners, inspectors, planners/architects, paramedics, housing organisations, the police, faith leaders, voluntary and private sector staff and people with dementia.
Nominations are now open online at www.ideawards2012.com