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Patients help celebrate beauty of older people

Patients in Witney are helping to dispel stereotypes surrounding the elderly by taking part in a photo exhibition that celebrates older people.

Harry Atkinson and Noel Green, two inpatients at the town’s community hospital, have been included in the Look At Me exhibition that celebrates the beauty of the older generation.

By putting them at the forefront of the exhibition, which is on display at the hospital until the end of September, 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, said: “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.

Mr Green, in his early nineties, wrote: “If I could go back, I would have asked my wife to dance the first time we met.”

The pair became involved in the project while attending weekly dance sessions at the hospital. They are no longer attending sessions but the exhibition and dance sessions allow staff at Oxford Health, which runs the hospital, to get to know their patients.

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 also use a booklet that is used like a patient passport with information about them to help clinicians deliver better patient-centred care.

WODC cabinet member for leisure and health Cllr Jeanette Baker 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.”

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