When Brunelcare, a renowned provider of residential care, was building Saffron Gardens, its newest dementia care home in Bristol and a centre of dementia care excellence,  it asked two artists, Deirdre Nelson and Eamon O’Kane, to create artworks to stimulate the creativity of those who would be living in the new building and also to explore ideas about the meaning of home.  The artists researched the needs of residents to inform the design of artworks to support their wellbeing.  Both artists focused on the  need for stimulation and created artworks that facilitate and encourage creative activity.

In delivering this work it became clear to us that there was a lot of fear and anxiety around dementia, fuelled by a lack of knowledge about the condition and ways in which people with dementia can be supported and helped.  We also discovered that, while the benefits of taking creative approaches to caring for people with dementia are well documented, care home staff are often at a loss as to how to creatively engage residents.

“Behaviour inactivity and sensory sameness are the enemies of quality of life.” [Lawton, 2001]

The Napkin Project builds on the legacy of these commissions.

23On this website you will find information about the artworks already created by Deirdre Nelson and Eamon O’Kane and about the next exciting stage of the project in which we are offering an opportunity for other people to get involved.  We have also included links to and information about the use of creative activities for those with dementia which will be helpful to you if you are a person living with dementia yourself, if you have a family member with dementia, or if you work with people with dementia.




Lawton, M.P. (2001). The physical environment of the person with Alzheimer’s Disease. Aging and Mental Health. 5(Supplement 1): S56-S64

We would like to thank Arts Council England, Bristol City Council and Brunelcare for supporting and funding this project. 

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