Community and Connection

Journeys of Appreciation

Engaging older adult and dementia wards in creative, therapeutic activities

Funded by the Maudsley Charity, the Journeys of Appreciation project is designed to engage in-patients and staff from older adult and dementia wards at South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust in museum and gallery visits, with follow-up creative and therapeutic workshops.

Nuala Conlan, Involvement and Participation Lead, explains: ‘It helps service users reconnect with the world, and experience things that they may have done before their illness. This can help and encourage patients’ life story practice with staff, by using the visits and the follow-up creative sessions as a way of communicating, providing a sense of wellbeing, social inclusion and recovery.’

The programme has formed creative partnerships with Dulwich Picture GalleryHorniman MuseumTate ModernTate Britain and Bethlem Museum of the Mind.

The museum is accessible to ward patients and staff

Ward Manager, Geoff Ward, believes that using Bethlem Museum of the Mind is particularly important to the team. ‘Having the state of the art museum based on the same site as one of the inpatient units means the museum becomes easily accessible to the ward patients and staff. It has enabled us to build up a good relationship with the museum.’

Staff and service users who have taken part talk of the benefits of Journeys of Appreciation. They benefit from a real sense of freedom by going out and getting off the ward, and the joint experience of learning together has a positive impact on how the ward ‘feels’ and works on a daily basis.

JOAP Journeys of Appreciation Bethlem Museum

‘The exhibition was interesting and enjoyable’

Service user Michael says, ‘I thought it was very good. I especially liked the paintings and drawings, as well as the medicine bottles showcased in the museum. I thought it was enjoyable, the exhibition was interesting. I loved it and it was amazing. Overall, we had a laugh and everyone enjoyed it.’

The visits not only connect patients and staff to the museum but allow museum staff to work alongside patients, creating an opportunity to engage a different set of visitors to the museum, who bring their own unique contributions and life stories.

JOAP Horniman Museum
A trip to the Horniman Museum

"The beauty of the Charity is it allows you the time and the breathing space to think ‘how are we going to do this differently? – how are we going to progress this work?"

Nuala Conlan, Involvement and Participation Lead South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust