Towards Social Prescribing (Arts & Heritage) 2019

A4D Best Practice Social Prescribing Conference

‘Towards Social Prescribing (Arts & Heritage) for the Dementias’, The Wellcome Collection, 16 May 2019.

Leaders in social prescribing and arts for health and social care initiate key policy debate in this first UK conference on social press bribing for the dementias, to drive forward direction to arts on diagnosis:

Each year there are almost ten million new cases of dementia – over 200,000 in the UK. There is no cure, but widespread evidence that engaging with arts and heritage helps protect against the risk of cognitive decline and empowers individuals and their family carers to override anxieties caused by dementia, develop new creative experiences, preserve speech and language skills and nurture resilience in the community, despite dementia.

On diagnosis, people need direction to the arts to counteract loss and preserve cognitive function. Social prescribing, whereby surgery case managers, health support workers and link workers encourage people to choose arts programmes of interest, can achieve this. But the focus of social prescribing is rarely on dementia.


Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, The Rt. Hon. Matt Hancock, 2019.

Although there is not yet a cure I believe we can do more to improve the lives of people with the condition. We can and should harness the incredible power of the arts and social activities to help people cope better with symptoms and stay connected to their communities. This is the kind of good-value, easy-to-use social prescription that I’m fully behind, helping to achieve a shirt to more person-centred care as part of our NHS Long Term Plan.


Sharing evidence, process, impact and evaluation of SP arts to override dementia symptoms.
  • Keynote speeches by Dr Michael Dixon OBE GP, National Clinical Lead for Social Prescription, NHS England and Co-Chair, Social Prescribing Network and Baroness Greengross, co-chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Dementia, led to the health and social care plenary debate to steer the drive for SP for dementia as universal post-diagnostic support.
  • Presentations from surgery link worker to prescribed arts programmes, cultural companion training and launch of a volunteer creative companion consortium, ArtsPAL.

Veronica Franklin Gould introduces the social prescribing conference for dementia and creative befriender consortium, ArtsPAL

Alexandra Coulter, Chair of the Culture, Health and Wellbeing Alliance, chair


KEYNOTE SPEECH Dr Michael Dixon OBE GP, National Clinical Lead for Social Prescription, NHS England and Co-Chair, Social Prescribing Network, “Social Prescribing for Dementia in Practice“.

KEYNOTE SPEECH Baroness Greengross, Co-Chair, All-Party Parliamentary Group on Dementia       

PLENARY DEBATE, chaired by Dr Marie Polley, Co-Chair Social Prescribing Network

  • Dr Charles Alessi, Dementia Lead, Public Health England
  • Dr Michael Dixon OBE GP National Clinical Lead for Social Prescription, Chair, College of Medicine.
  • Professor Martin Green OBE, Chief Executive, Care England
  • James Sanderson, Director Personalised Care Group, NHS England
  • Georgia Chimbani, Dementia Lead, Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS)
  • Ian McCreath, Personalisation Lead, Alzheimer’s Society
  • Dr Richard Ings, Arts in Health Arts in Health, Wellbeing and Criminal Justice lead, Arts Council England

ARTS FOR EARLY-STAGE DEMENTIA, chaired by Dr Patricia Vella-Burrows, Principle Research Fellow, Sidney De Haan Research Centre for Arts & Health, Canterbury Christ Church University: