Image shown: Creative Exchanges: Drawing workshop. Photo by Liz Harper.

Creative Exchanges: Drawing workshop. Photo by Liz Harper.

Graduation ceremony

Graduation ceremony

Irish Museum of Modern Art

Irish Museum of Modern Art

March 2014

March 2014


Participants include activities coordinators in care settings, artists, and those with a background in the arts interested in building on their skills working with people in care settings.


Creative Exchanges aims to give participants the skills, knowledge and confidence to facilitate a range of creative and artistic activities in their care settings.

Key objectives are to equip participants to be able to deliver a wider range of meaningful activities as part of the daily routine, to embed the skills in the care setting, and to raise awareness among participants about the community arts resources available to them that can support them in their work.


Creative Exchanges provides participants with the opportunity to encounter high quality community arts practice and to develop skills in facilitating arts activities. Participants learn about a rights-based approach to the provision of creative activity for those in their care.

Highly experienced artists and facilitators guide the participants through workshops and the challenges and opportunities encountered when working with groups. Each day of the programme includes a workshop from a practicing community arts practitioner. These workshops have been led by artists such as Terry O’Farrell, Kevin O’ Shanahan, Gillian Cussen and Marie Brett. Throughout the course, participants are encouraged to research and link in with the wider arts landscape and to use these links as a resource for the people in their care.

Creative Exchanges covers topics such as:

  • Working creatively with people who have dementia
  • Planning activity work
  • Exploring music-based activities: music workshops, for instance, have involved participants using instruments and their own voices. The emphasis is on participation and includes all levels of skill and experience.
  • Delivering drama-related activity
  • Working with the visual arts: workshops have included paper cutting, drawing, and painting and have utilised materials such as coloured pebbles, straws and clay.

Evaluation Methodology

Creative Exchanges is being externally evaluated by the University of Ulster.

The programme is fully validated by FETAC under the new Common Awards System at Level 6 on the National Framework of Qualifications. Participants take part in formal assessment  by completing a learner journal, a project with a group of older people in a day care or residential setting, and two written assignments.

Evaluation Outcomes

An independent evaluation by the University of Ulster is currently being carried out. A summary of the evaluation will be available on the Age & Opportunity website by the end of 2014.

The first cohort of 15 learners received their FETAC QQI Certificates in February 2014. The programme has been very well received by participants. The time to try out new activities was important and proved to participants the benefit of what they were learning.

A resident that wouldn’t speak in the nursing home… she sang the full song “My Bonny Lies Over the Ocean” and that taught me to use music as a way of communication and it was fabulous… her family were in tears.’ – Mary Kelly, Carlow-based Activities Coordinator

Engaging [older] people in something creative is almost like shining a light on them. It helps them to relax, keeps them focused and helps trigger memories.‘ – Clare Healy, Activities Co-Ordinator at Kiltipper

Documentation and Dissemination

The first Creative Exchanges programme graduation ceremony took place at the Irish Museum of Modern Art in March 2014. Certificates were awarded by Kathleen Lynch, Minister of State, Department of Health and Department of Justice, Equality & Defence with responsibility for Disability,Older People, Equality & Mental Health.

An article by Emer O’Reilly-Hyland in the Irish Independent (Health & Living 2 June 2014) looks at how the learnings from Creative Exchanges have been implemented in care settings.

Two more deliveries of the Creative Exchanges programme are currently planned for Cork in July and September 2014 and Dublin in September and October 2014. Further information can be viewed here.  Contact to learn more about the programme.


The Crawford Gallery
The Glucksman Gallery

Project dates

The pilot phase of this programme has seen two deliveries:

Dublin: September - December 2013

Cork: May - June 2014

Lead organisation

Age & Opportunity

Funded By

The development of the programme was funded by an Impact grant from The Community Foundation of Ireland.


Gillian Cussen, Kevin O'Shanahan, Marie Brett, Terry O'Farrell


Music, Traditional Arts, Visual Arts

Healthcare context(s)

Older People

Nature of project

Training/ Continuous Professional Development


Cork, Dublin City

Web link


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