Carrie Clarke


Sparking Connections – Ways to Find Beauty, Joy and Meaning in Dementia

Why do we not face up to dementia? Because it means facing our own vulnerability. There is no cure, but can we still do something for people with dementia? All of us have a need to love and be loved. Can we strengthen people’s sense of belonging? Create a sense of connection to place, people, each other? We need to shift the focus from what people can’t do, onto what they can do and their strengths.

Carrie Clarke is a former traditional signwriter who has worked for many years in the arts and health field. She is currently an Occupational Therapist working with an NHS inpatient unit for people with dementia; she is also a practising artist.

In 2010 she wrote a successful bid to the King’s Fund ‘Enhancing the Healing Environment’ programme, and led a team in developing an innovative project to transform an inpatient hospital environment for people with dementia. The project had at its heart a participatory approach, consulting with people living with dementia, their carers and staff, and incorporating their views and ideas into the design. These individuals were also actively involved in creating some of the outstanding and moving artwork for the new unit.

As an Occupational Therapist, the fundamental inter-relationship between people, meaningful occupation and the environment is central to Carrie’s work. To this she brings an aesthetic eye and a strong desire to raise awareness of the impact of environments on the physical, mental and emotional well-being of people living with dementia.

Carrie is passionate about finding new ways to create a more sustainable, respectful, meaningful and engaging way of being with people with dementia, that will support a better quality of life based on a sense of connection to place, to self and to others. For this to happen, new relationships and partnerships need to be forged that cross conventional boundaries, encouraging creative and innovative approaches to one of society’s greatest challenges – that of ageing and dementia.

The ‘EHE’ project was recently ‘highly commended’ in the Arts and Health South West Awards 2012, and Carrie’s work won an NHS award for ‘Change and Innovation’ in September 2012.

Biography published 2013

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