Oxford Health staff at Witney Community Hospital are helping to dispel stereotypes surrounding older people.

Two inpatients at Witney have been included in a photo exhibition, entitled ‘Look at me’, that celebrates the beauty of older people. By putting them at the forefront of the exhibition, it is hoped society’s perceptions of older people will begin to change.

Daria Belostockaia, a visiting scholar at the Oxford Institute of Population Ageing, who created the exhibition, explains: ‘Through these photographs I want to show the subjects, and the rest of the world, that they are beautiful not in spite of their age, but because of it.’

The photos in the exhibition are accompanied by a quote either from the older person or by someone close to them that echoes their fears, regrets and dreams.

If I could go back, I would have asked my wife to dance the first time we met.
Noel Green (pictured above)

The two patients became involved in the project while attending weekly dance sessions at Witney Community Hospital.

Black and white photo of old man in chair

Harry Atkinson

The exhibition and dance sessions allow staff at Oxford Health to get to know their patients better and gain an understanding of their life story.

The activity forms part of the ‘Creating With Care’ programme, developed by West Oxfordshire District Council, to enable residents, particularly those in vulnerable groups, to gain better access to health and wellbeing activities and has been funded from developer contributions.

Cllr Jeanette Baker, Cabinet member for Leisure and Health at West Oxfordshire District Council, said:

“Older people are often undervalued but have a lifetime of experience and knowledge to share with younger generations.

“They play an invaluable part in society and I am delighted that this exhibition is a celebration of their contribution.”

Paula Har, Dementia Nurse Specialist at Witney Community Hospital said: “This exhibition highlights the value in getting to know our patients, their stories and hearing their voices and actually seeing the person, their values and their importance no matter how old they are.”

Dementia nurses at Oxford Health also use a ‘Knowing Me’ booklet to gather a few simple bits of information about our patients, such as people that are important to them and what those people do for them.

The booklet remains with the patient as they move through different health services and enables clinicians to deliver better patient-centred care.