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Can You See What I See? Exploring the person with dementia in new book by artist Caroline Hyland

Date posted: 15 June 2021

Can You See What I See? Book launch at Tallaght University Hospital with artist Caroline Hyland and Professor Desmond O'Neill.

Around 64,000 people in Ireland are currently living with dementia, while many thousands more provide support to loved ones, primarily at home. Inspired by the effect dementia had on her relationship with her own grandmother, and wishing to face her own personal fears, illustrator and arts & health practitioner Caroline Hyland has produced Can You See What I See?, a publication designed to encourage a focus on the individual living with dementia, rather than on the dementia itself.

The book has evolved from a visual arts project facilitated by Tallaght University Hospital in 2017, with support and funding from the Adelaide Health Foundation, the Meath Foundation and the National Centre for Arts and Health.

Each illustration in the book is an accumulation of observations and conversations with people living with dementia and with those that support them. The title derives from having my own eyes opened to what someone with dementia might experience and their needs. As individuals there are practical things we can all do to help a person feel included and engaged in their community. 

In this book, I’m trying to convey that as human beings, no matter our diagnosis, disease or disability, we need to be seen and treated as people first. A diagnosis of dementia should not make someone any less valued as citizens in their society. We need to include people with dementia and listen to what they want.’ – Caroline Hyland

Can You See What I See? consists of 12 full-colour, hand-painted illustrations with accompanying text. Aiming to inform the person, their family and friends, students, healthcare workers and wider society, the book can be used to open up conversations among all ages and as a training resource in the fields of health and social care.

In his foreword, Professor Desmond O’Neill, Consultant Gerontologist at Tallaght University Hospital, writes ‘A picture is truly worth a thousand words, and Caroline Hyland has developed a portfolio of beautiful and thought-provoking paintings with accompanying text which are a milestone in harnessing the power of art to better understand how the new world of the “Now” in dementia engages with not only the past but also the present and their relationships with those around them.’

Can You See What I See? is available to purchase for €16 from www.carolinehyland.com All proceeds are going to the HSE South Dublin community project Living Well with Dementia.

Caroline Hyland – Illustrator and Art Facilitator
Caroline Hyland is a freelance illustrator and art facilitator. A former Occupational Therapist, Caroline currently works as an art facilitator at the National Centre for Arts and Health, Tallaght University Hospital and as an art mentor in DoubleTAKE, a community arts studio dedicated to developing and supporting people with disabilities to develop their creativity through the arts. She also facilitates art sessions with the Living Well with Dementia project and provides visual supports for people with intellectual disability at advocacy committee meetings. Caroline strongly believes that information can be made more accessible to everyone through the medium of visual art. Caroline has a degree in Visual Communications, a HDip in Art Education and a Masters in Occupational Therapy.

Living Well with Dementia (LWwD)
All proceeds from the book will go to Living Well with Dementia (LWwD), an HSE-supported, community project in south Dublin that aims to support people diagnosed with dementia and their families to raise awareness, reduce stigma and promote early diagnosis. LWwD envisages a community that respects, supports, and empowers people with dementia; a community in which people with dementia are socially and culturally valued; a community where people with dementia still actively participate in a safe environment. livingwellwithdementia.ie

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