Visual Arts and Older People: Exploring Models of Best Practice

Published: 3 Apr 2017

Author: Sharon Goodlet
Visual Arts and Older People: Exploring Models of Best Practice

Sharon Goodlet, an artist from Glasgow, has made a number of recommendations for visual arts programmes for older people in a new report based on findings from research trips to Australia and the USA. Sharon’s travels were enabled by a Winston Churchill Memorial Trust Travelling Fellowship Award.

A graduate of Glasgow School of Art, Sharon has a Fine Art background with over 17 years’ experience of delivering visual art programmes for older people in hospitals, care homes and in community settings.

It has been shown that meaningful engagement in the visual arts improves quality of life for older people, promoting their health and wellbeing and reducing depression, anxiety and social isolation1, 2.

Sharon travelled to Australia visiting Sydney, Melbourne and Canberra in late 2015 and New York in the spring of 2016. She met with artists and facilitators delivering programmes in a variety of health and community settings, including hospitals, care homes, supported housing, museums and galleries. She saw how they successfully engaged with older people who would otherwise be unable to access the visual arts because of age related conditions such as mobility problems, impaired hearing and eyesight, and the after effects of a stroke or dementia.

Sharon’s Fellowship report contains some inspiring case-studies demonstrating how older people are successfully engaging in and benefiting from visual art programmes and recommends approaches that could be replicated in the UK.

“The Fellowship was an amazing opportunity to learn from and be inspired by artists and health professionals delivering quality visual art programmes for older people. I have gained valuable knowledge and experience which will feed into my current role in palliative care. I plan to continue exploring models of best practice and exchanging  information, experience and expertise with the many connections made during my Fellowship” -Sharon Goodlet

Since returning to the UK, Sharon has taken on a new role as one of the team of artists delivering the Creative Arts Service in palliative care at The Prince & Princess of Wales Hospice in Glasgow.  As well as supporting patients to develop their own creativity, the role includes creating links with the cultural life of Glasgow and beyond through collaborations and exhibitions, and sharing best practice through networking, conferences and seminars, as well as contributing to research and evaluation.

Read Sharon’s report here

1. Mental Health Foundation (2011). An evidence review of the impact of participatory arts on older people http://baringfoundation.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2011/04/EvidenceReview.pdf

2. Gene Cohen (2006). The Creativity and Aging Study: The Impact of Professionally Conducted Cultural Programs on Older Adults https://cahh.gwu.edu/sites/cahh.gwu.edu/files/downloads/NEA_Study_Final_Report_0.pdf

Notes to Editors

Contact: sharongoodlet@gmail.com

Read Sharon’s blog here