Press Release

30 July 2013

Canterbury Christ Church University is continuing to develop projects that will advance community-based services for people with dementia and their carers by signing Memorandums of Understanding with two local museums.

Recent partnerships with The Beaney House of Arts & Knowledge, Canterbury, and Tunbridge Wells Museum and Art Gallery, have put in place a working relationship between the institutions to develop mutually beneficial programmes, focusing on arts, heritage and culture.

The Beaney House of Arts & Knowledge: Photo by Guy Gardinar
The Beaney House of Arts & Knowledge: Photo by Guy Gardinar

The Beaney is working with Joana Johnson, Doctoral student in Clinical Psychology at Canterbury Christ Church University, under the supervision of Professor Paul Camic, Research Director for Applied Psychology at the University, and Alison Culverwell, Director of Older Adult Mental Health Services at Kent and Medway NHS Partnership Trust.

People living with dementia will be welcomed to The Beaney, in small groups, and shown to the Learning Lab where they will have the opportunity to touch, handle and talk about a range of museum artefacts.

Paul Camic said: “Our first project we will be working on, with both museums, will be the development of museum object handling sessions for people with early stage dementia. Research has shown that museum object handling is effective in increasing wellbeing 'in the moment' for people with a range of health conditions. 

“It helps to work multiple senses and may trigger associations, memories and stimulate conversation and so it is a useful way to enhance wellbeing and quality of life for people with dementia.”

Jo Jones, Director of Museums and Galleries, said: “We greatly value this exciting new relationship with Canterbury Christ Church and look forward to working closely with them to enable The Beaney to be a hub for health and wellbeing providing support for vulnerable members of our local community.”

Similar projects will take place with the Tunbridge Wells Museum and Art Gallery to research and develop the health of local people living with dementia and their carers.

Tunbridge Borough Councillor John Cunningham, Cabinet member with responsibility for Housing, Health, Wellbeing and Rural Communities, said: “We are very pleased to be working with the Psychology Department at Canterbury Christ Church University and the mental health charities.

“Studies such as this one show not only the massive impact cultural institutions can have in a community, but the real difference they can make to the life of the individual.”

This first project aims to look at two different activities that occur in museums, object handling and art discussions, in order to understand how they may impact wellbeing.

Notes to Editor

For further information about participating in the project email Joana Johnson at j.m.johnson157@canterbury.ac.uk

  • Paul Camic is Professor of Psychology and Public Health and Research Director in the Department of Applied Psychology, and a Research Associate of the University's Sidney De Haan Research Centre for Arts & Heath. He is also a Consultant Clinical Health Psychologist.
  • He has conducted research and clinical work in health psychology in the US and UK, he has also been involved with community-based research in state schools, community organisations and museums/galleries. Recent funded research includes singing and visual arts as interventions for people with a dementia and their carers; the use of material (physical)objects in human development and health; the gallery/museum as a mental health intervention 'site' to enhance wellbeing and quality of life.

Canterbury Christ Church University

Canterbury Christ Church University is a modern university with a particular strength in higher education for the public services.

With nearly 20,000 students across Kent and Medway, its courses span a wide range of academic and professional subject areas.

  • 94% of our most recent UK graduates were in employment or further studies six months after completing their studies*.
  • We are the number one choice for local people looking to study at university in Kent (2012 UCAS).
  • We are one of the South East’s largest providers of education, training and skills leading to public service careers.

*2011/12 Destination of Leavers from Higher Education survey

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Last edited: 05/12/2017 04:25:00