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Arts in Care Homes

Pamela Holmes. Practice Development Manager, the Social Care Institute for Excellence (SCIE)

Go on – be inspired! Pamela Holmes says we all have the opportunity to make creativity part of our lives in these shared. A new website can help.

Creativity. It’s a tricky word. Most people say they haven’t got a creative bone in their body. They can’t sing, they can’t draw and unless they don’t have a handbag to dance around, they’re too shy to get on their feet!

Where did we get the message that creativity is not part of us?

When we were children we did all these creative activities, as you could call them without judging how well we did them. Of course we became aware that some of our friends and contacts could do them better than us. Competency should always be acknowledged and developed and it’s a joy to see excellence. But seeing others do things brilliantly shouldn’t have meant that we stopped doing them. Somewhere along the way the confidence that bubbled up unopposed could get squashed.

New resource. Inspiring care home residents to be creative


But does that matter?

I’d say it does. It’s not only that more and more research confirms that being involved in the creative arts helps to keep us well, aids our recovery from mental and physical illnesses and even extends life. It’s also fun. Fun should be part of everyone’s day and if we deny the part of us which is creative, we potentially close down a source of enjoyment. We deny it to ourselves as well as the people we care for.

The arts is a broad church

It includes painting and opera and poetry as well as gardening, reading and appreciating why we like things. What do you like doing when you’re not at work? Watching Strictly Come Dancing, perhaps. Why do you like it? Is it the dancing, the fine costumes, the drama and story of individuals preparing to dance, the music? Thinking about why we like things puts us in touch with all things that make us tick.

And all of these we can share with others

Perhaps you like walking your dog? When you’re working with a resident who used to have a pet, think of using this shared love of animals as a ‘way to connect’. Can you bring the dog into the home? If not, describe the feel of the dog’s coat and then find an item that feels something like it. Perhaps you like dog-walking because of being in the fresh air?  Can you take the resident out to the local park and see how many dogs you can spot there? If it’s not possible to leave the home, are there films or photographs of dogs on the web that you can find and discuss together? What about cutting out pictures from a magazine to make a picture or even trying to draw dogs?

Oh, I forgot. You haven’t got a creative bone in your body.

I hope SCIE can help. The charity has recently published Arts in Care Homes, a website with lots of ideas for bringing a creative approach into care homes. From activities that can be done with little or no funding through to engaging with arts organisations, the website also provides examples of what other care home have done, showing it’s possible to take this approach. And have fun while you’re at it.

SCIE: Arts in care homes: www.tinyurl.com/scieartscarehomes


Edel Harris





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