Introducing the new activity starter kit for individuals

Not just for care homes - take a domestic kit home to someone living with dementia

Creating Conversations the garden activity starter kit for the home

Creating Conversations can happen in your own home, so why not consider a starter kit for use with a loved one or someone living with dementia who you care for in their own home. We have stripped back the details to offer a Quick Start guide, our full pack of discussion cards with instructions and some new Activity Starters to help you get started. This is all included with your own small tablecloth that you can use on a kitchen table, in the lounge or even over a lap with nice cup of tea to bring conversation alive with every visit.

This is the perfect gift for someone to encourage more interaction, reminiscence and better social opportunity as well as cheering up the house. You get all the key benefits of the full kit, presented beautifully for someone to own.

Visit our Shop to take advantage of our introductory offer of just £30 with a RRP of £39.99 and to find out more about the product details. 

Launching Creating Conversations Open Badges

We want to recognise the value of using Creating Conversations for anyone who uses our conversation toolkits and is looking to validate their achievements, share the impact the kit has had in their conversations and to ensure that it contributes to professional development and key competencies.

We have worked with the SSSC (Scottish Social Services Council) to launch our first Open Badges for anyone using the kits to earn through submitting evidence to our team. We are really enthused and encouraged by the stories, images and evidence we have already received and we would love to award you with a badge for your own benefit.

The Bronze Open Badge: Starting Out with Creating Conversations

The Bronze Open Badge: Starting Out with Creating Conversations

The Silver Open Badge: Experience Facilitator in Creating Conversations

The Silver Open Badge: Experience Facilitator in Creating Conversations

The Bronze Open Badge is ideal for someone using our social activity kits for the very first time. It will help you get the most out of our kits if you are trying to support or facilitate a conversations session and should help you with your first steps towards confident social communication.

The Silver Open Badge is aimed at those who are using our activity kits as part of a full or ongoing programme. It will support you to build a strong evidence base for your regular conversations and with leading a process of facilitating a full project to completion.

What is an Open Badge?

Open Badges are a straightforward way to collect, manage and share evidence of learning in today’s digital world. You can collect them to evidence your learning and share them in places that matter to you, including offline as printable certificates. When you show your badge to someone, they will be able to see criteria against which the badge was issued and any evidence that you provided to prove you met that criteria.


The Scottish Social Services Council SSSC logo

The Scottish Social Services Council SSSC logo

Click to visit the SSSC Open Badges site

The Scottish Social Services Council (SSSC) and dozens of other social service organisations issue Open Badges to recognise continuous and informal learning that would otherwise go unrecorded.

Why Open Badges?

As Creating Conversations launches our first Open Badges, Director Kevin Harrison outlines some of the thinking behind digital badging of professional development:

"Social Badges may not be news to everyone, but the advent of whole new mechanisms of supporting and recognising learning are evolving and soon we will all be virtually connected like digital scouts and guides with our collections of experiences that form and inform our work forces."

Read more at Social Bytes, his Linkedin article on the subject.

Abbeyfield residents in Surrey reap the benefits of Creating Conversations

We recently heard from Abbeyfield House in New Malden, Surrey where residents have been using the Creating Conversations tablecloth to stimulate conversation and activity. In this case the photographs say it all. This was one of the first homes in Abbeyfield to test out the use of Creating Conversations toolkits and it has so far been a great success.

Abbeyfield House is a custom built residential unit, designed to meet the needs of people living with dementia. It was featured in a Telegraph Article recently which called it "an ingeniuous care home". Creating Conversations have been delighted to work with Abbeyfield on this.

Creating Conversations activities in Balhousie Care Group


Wheatland's have been trying out some new ways to get residents more involved in activities.

Activities are a huge part of our day here, ranging from seated exercises to arts and crafts and everything in between. These are an essential aspect to the health and wellbeing of our residents, not just physically but mentally as well.

Maintaining health and wellbeing

To try and help us increase engagement for all and to really create some personalised and meaningful activities we've started some new initiatives.

We set up our dining room with a variety of different activity tables, these were designed to appeal to all different personality types. We had:

  • Conversations table - decorated with table cloths and cards to provoke and encourage conversation
  • Arts and crafts - we're getting crafty
  • Reminiscence session

During this we had music from 50/60's in the background.

We had a lovely afternoon socialising and participating in the various activities. The room was filled with chatter and giggles throughout, it's been great.

'Do You Give A Kit?' Campaign Launched

Creating Conversations, and Artlink Central (our parent charity), want to engage the wider community in a campaign that highlights the growth and impact of dementia in the local community.  In particular, the prevalence of dementia in older women, linking it to its ‘Do You Give a Kit?’ campaign for Mother’s Day in 2017.  

The donation campaign linked to ‘Do You Give A Kit?’ will allow us to gift meaningful activity toolkit's to people living with dementia in your local area.

The ‘Do You Give A Kit?’ Mother’s Day 2017 campaign will:

  • Raise awareness of people living with dementia in the local community.
  • Highlight the increase of dementia now effecting women. 
  • Allow meaningful Activity Toolkit's to be gifted to care groups, hospital wards, community care homes and people living with dementia within the local community.
  • Highlight the work of charity Artlink Central within the community for local residents to use.

This important opportunity will allow us to engage and reach a far wider group of people.  The campaign will be a positive and visible approach in the community, whilst providing information, activity and guidance. 

Creating Conversations shares their story at Forth Valley Hospital

The Creating Conversations gardening activity kit is a fascinating idea which promotes communication among elderly people living with Dementia. The idea sprang from a participatory arts programme at Bo'ness Hospital with NHS Forth Valley: Each session takes place at the same table covered with the same enormous sheet of paper. As the conversations flows, artists Malcy Duff and Déirdre ní Mhathúna, draw on the paper and encourage the participants to join in. Then, each week the paper table cloth is laid out and people are able to gather round with a cup of tea. The illustrations are visual and social clues for picking up conversations from the previous week and also record the significant events and memories of the group. This has been developed into the new activity kit, which includes a tablecloth to visually record and encourage conversations.

More information about how the product can inspire humour and decrease agitation during the sessions: 

"In almost every session I attended, humour played a huge role. There was a lot of awkwardness around subjects like art and gardening where some people felt like they had knowledge and maybe others didn't. People often made light of it and built up conversations around humour and funny stories or attitudes that they had, and it just brought a social dynamic and encouraged more conversation."

"There were definitely observations that people were showing and expressing directly that they were feeling less anxious once they got started with the activity kit than when they sat down to do the activity. People would want something to fiddle with - a lot of people used the tablecloth as a stimulus and the objects on the table and looking at the images so even when people didn't want to communicate as part of the bigger conversation, they were still engaging with the product and with the group, participating and making choices. There was a lot of non-verbal communication."

Creating Conversations will be on display at Forth Valley Hospital until December 2016.  

Press Release: Creating Conversations Launch Programme


Creating Conversations branding

Creating Conversations branding

After an eighteen month design and testing programme, leading community arts charity, Artlink Central are ready to launch our new social enterprise trading arm Creating Conversations Limited, and our very first product into the care sector, the Creating Conversations Activity Kit: Gardening.

Creating Conversations Limited is one of the most recent enterprises to benefit from a social investment loan from Asda Community Capital distributed through Social Investment Scotland. The project is also supported by the Robertson Trust who have awarded support to Artlink Central.

The new social enterprise and brand will commercialise Artlink Central’s expertise in delivering participatory arts programmes by developing activity products for health, care and domestic markets, beginning with an activity kit based on the theme of gardening specifically for people with dementia. All profits from Creating Conversations Limited will go back into Artlink Central’s charitable projects.

There are approximately 71,000 people with dementia in Scotland, around 2,300 of whom are under the age of 65. As our population ages, the number of people with dementia will increase and we expect the number to double over the next 25 years. Prevalence of dementia increases with age; around 1.5% of the 65 to 69-year-old population are affected, increasing to about one in three of the 90-plus age groups. 

The initial product idea was inspired by Artlink Central’s ongoing dementia programme in NHS Forth Valley settings, where artists developed a tablecloth based drawing and conversation project. With support from a wide range of local businesses and agencies such as Just Enterprise and with initial investment from the Coalfields Regeneration Trust to test the first prototype in over 20 care homes, the idea of a social kit which could easily transform the care environment into a stimulating space for talk and activity was realized with local artists Christine Hilditch and Rosas Mitchell creating visual and written content.

The Creating Conversations Social Activity Kit - Gardening

The Creating Conversations Social Activity Kit - Gardening

 Artlink Central was then able to collaborate with researchers from the Dementia and Social Gerontology Research Group at the University of Stirling and in partnership with them, to secure funding from the Standard Innovation Voucher scheme to evaluate the impact of the revised kit.

The evaluation project was led by Dr Jane Robertson and Dr Vikki McCall  of Stirling University working with Artlink Central staff to observe and evaluate the kits in use at a care home and a day care centre. A total of 21 people with dementia, 9 staff and 7 volunteers took part in 10 observation sessions across the two venues. Five staff who facilitated sessions and 2 team leaders took part in interviews.

Dr Robertson and Dr McCall produced a detailed report on the observations with recommendations on design elements of the kit, instructions and information within the handbook and marketing of the product. In conclusion they stated that:

“The project has established that the creative opportunities provided by the toolkit Creating Conversations: Gardening have the potential to increase confidence, reduce anxiety, affirm identities, support positive social connections and provide opportunities to engage in enjoyable and purposeful activities as evidenced through the observations.”

As part of its bid to become more entrepreneurial in the way it operates, Artlink Central has recently moved its base to Stirling University Innovation Park which has supported the development of the product and social enterprise and strengthened the work of the organisation across the whole campus. The formation of Creating Conversations Limited as a trading arm is strong evidence of the entrepreneurial influence of the University.

The launch of
 Creating Conversations will coincide with the British Society of Gerontology 45th Annual Conference at Stirling University.

There are three key elements to the Creating Conversations launch:

·         Launch presentation and special event at the conference on 7th July

·         Exhibition of the story of the product at Macrobert Arts Centre from 1st – 12th July

·         Community Launch event in Macrobert Arts Centre on the 11th July

The company will launch sales and website to coincide with the launch. So far the project has been supported by Coalfields Regeneration Trust, NHS Forth Valley, University of Stirling with Scottish Funding Council support and Macrobert Arts Centre as well as attracting a social loan investment through ASDA Community Capital scheme distributed by Social Investment Scotland


Media contact:
Kevin Harrison, Director

07764 940919

Notes to Editors

Artlink Central

Artlink Central is a charity and social enterprise that specialises in designing creative experiences in conjunction with artists, public bodies and led by disadvantaged or marginalised people particularly in health, social care and justice contexts. It operates within a wide range of institutional and community-based settings (from care homes to prisons) and across art forms, working closely with artists, statutory and voluntary sector and the people who access its programmes.  For further information see:


Adsa Community Capital scheme distributed by Social Investment Scotland               

The Single Use Carrier Bags Charge (Scotland) Regulations, which came into effect on 20 October 2014, require retailers to charge shoppers in Scotland a minimum of 5p for every single-use carrier bag used.  In partnership with Asda, Social Investment Scotland distribute the money raised through this levy, as part of the Asda Community Capital scheme.  The scheme offers loans of between £10,000 and £50,000 to help provide investment capital to early stage social enterprises, allowing them to make a measurable difference to their communities.  Creating Conversations Ltd is one of the most recent social enterprises to benefit from Asda Community Capital. 

Stirling University Innovation Park

Stirling University Innovation Park aims to stimulate innovation, product and process development and technology transfer within firms in Scotland. Through assisting companies to establish a continuous improvement culture, the Innovation Park promotes enhanced growth, competitiveness, creativity, customer satisfaction and market share, both nationally and internationally. For further information on the Park please visit
You can also follow the Park on twitter @suipltd and Facebook.



A big thanks for all your support!


We would love to offer a massive thank you to our brilliant 19 backers who helped raise £520 towards our product launch. You have helped us produce our very first product, literally getting us off the ground and into the market. We cannot thank you enough.


We asked Artlink Central supporters to help us get the conversation started through our very first Crowdfunder and nineteen generous supports gave generously to allow us to purchase our very first product to ensure they were ready to sell at our launch.

Thanks to all those keen and giving friends for raising over £500 to give us a starting investment.