This is Joni Roche’s bright idea for Limerick.

To invite people living with dementia and a family member/carer to visit and enjoy the Hunt Museum.


Exclusion from communities is a frequent consequence of dementia. A Dementia Friendly Community is one that demonstrates a high level of public awareness and understanding of dementia and this is what the Hunt Museum strives to become.

We would like to be able to continue running an ‘Art Conversation Programme’ for people living with dementia and their families. This was initiated for a six week period Jan-Feb 2016, and ran one morning weekly.

The aim was to help remove the barriers for people with dementia to participate in their community. The arts can enhance the quality of life of people with dementia because of their capacity to engage emotions and facilitate communication (including non-verbal communication).

The arts can also foster greater involvement in communities by people affected by dementia.

Through the arts a space can be created for interaction and sharing between people with dementia and those close to them. Engaging in art is a meaningful activity that fosters personal growth and a positive self-image and identity. Caregivers can interact socially with other caregivers and learn in a supportive environment.

The whole museum community was informed as to the nature of the ‘Arts Conversation Programme’ – this included all volunteers, staff, Friends of the Hunt Museum, security and restaurant staff.

None would have been involved previously, in a similar programme and all involved on the previous occasion, were wholeheartedly supportive and willing to assist in any way and would be again, if we are given the opportunity to continue the programme.

What came to light was how many people’s lives had been and are affected by dementia, just within the museum community alone. Elements of the preparation for the programme that proved vital were that volunteers received the necessary training and enough time was taken to prepare and put the programme together.

This strategy proved most helpful in developing the programme at the Hunt Museum and aided the quality of the project and the level of volunteer engagement.

The focus was on participants’ abilities in order to create an accepting and engaging environment in which dementia is a non-issue. A responsive and welcoming space was provided for people with dementia and their families/carers.