Cheryl Beer, an ethnographic poet and community artist from Carmarthenshire, has been nominated for a Wales Care Award in the category of Excellence in Dementia Care.
Her nomination recognises the valuable practice-based research on applied arts and dementia for the Joseph Rowntree Foundation she has carried out which now forms part of its “A Better Life” campaign.
Cheryl has been working at an extra care scheme in Burry Port and a nursing home in Tumble, both run by non-profit housing, care and support provider Gwalia.
The work, which started with group music and story therapy sessions funded by The Baring Foundation, spawned several spin off projects including the album ‘Postcards from Louie’, celebrating the life of Louie Davies – a lady living at Gwalia’s Mynydd Mawr nursing home -through songs and stories.
Cheryl recalls: “Louie was such an inspiration – it was as if she was sending me postcards from her memory of all her happiest times.”
During the sessions with Louie and others, Cheryl developed valuable practice-based research on applied arts and dementia for the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, which now forms part of its “A Better Life” campaign.
Mark Lewis, Director of Care for Gwalia, said: “The arts are proven to have numerous benefits within residential and nursing care settings, the story telling and reminiscence work is particularly successful when a person’s short-term memory has started to deteriorate but their memories from years ago remain intact. The work Cheryl has done with the art group members has rekindled imaginations, triggered memories, provided opportunities for socialising and conversation and increased self-esteem.”
Reflecting on her work Cheryl said: “The work that started and was initiated and inspired by Louie, informed a process that has empowered a national voice to make positive change and ‘A Better Life’ for people with dementia.”