Everyday creativity in Care
Creative resources + Training & Support = Better health
Two parallel projects were set up to explore how creativity could support people in care homes, a population group that has been especially impacted by the pandemic restrictions.
We worked with the following care homes: Sovereign Lodge Care, Queensmead Nursing Home, Saxonwood Care Home, Woodlands Care Home, Elizabeth Court Rest Home, Whitebriars Residential Care Home, Whitecliff Residential Care Home, Parris Lawn, Claydon House and Orchard House Care Home.
Three independent visual artists Lucy Groenewoud, Sarah Bryant and Marisa Gardener linked with eight care homes, connecting with Activity Coordinators (ACs) and a number of family representatives to design resources to support residents to enjoy a range of bespoke creative activities, tailored around their particular interests.
The artist team designed a resource box with a set of 36 Creative Prompt Cards and materials, including suggestions for use of iPads. The cards covered different subjects such as gardens, nature, travel, transport, as well as offering activities that connected with different sensory experiences.
The team supported Activity Coordinators weekly through an online zoom session and developed a very effective WhatsApp group to enable ACs to share their successes. In addition, they created an Instagram page @_everydaycreativity to communicate externally about the project, reaching 11,000 accounts.
“We're part of the bigger group … and there's 45 other homes all around the country. Obviously, I’ve been keeping them informed of what's going on and the progress and they're all very keen. Everyone's very excited about it so we want to branch it off, and use it in all the other homes because it works, pure and simple and it's amazing, really.”
The second project was led by Jane Haughton and Nancy Cooley from Raise Your Voice working with Claydon House and Parris Lawn. Jane and Nancy ran a dementia choir for Glyndebourne and were keen to take this experience into care homes.
They wanted to support care home staff to share and feel confident in singing and making music with residents and their families. Initially they ran zoom sessions for staff and residents to understand what support was needed and then refined and developed their resources which included online videos, song sheets, suggestions for warm ups, music and movement and percussion. In the final stage of the project Jane and Nancy supported staff to use their resources, encouraging singing as part of their 1-1 everyday interactions as well as a group activity. All resources are available on their website www.raiseyourvoice.org.uk.
“Some of the care staff have greeted residents with a “tune” when getting them up in the morning. Some residents have loved this, others have loathed it complaining because the carers are too jolly.”
Qualitative evaluation suggested that both residents and staff really enjoyed being involved in these projects. It has improved the skills and confidence of the care home staff in delivering creative activities, reduced their stress levels and enabled them to have fun with and to learn more about their residents. The pandemic forced an approach that was dependent on resources and very limited face-face contact. On reflection, this approach proved significantly more sustainable, skilling staff and ensuring they had the skills and confidence to continue.
This project opted to use the Canterbury Wellbeing Scales as a tool to measure the impact on the wellbeing of residents. A full data set was achieved for the visual arts project with records of pre and post wellbeing measures across 122 sessions. These showed the following observed or self reported increases: 75% of participants saw an increase in happiness, 57% in wellbeing, 78% increased interest, 64% increased optimism. 70% confidence.
Both groups are keen to connect with more care homes to share resources, offer training.