Celebrating the role of art in care

Sylvie Silver, Executive Director, NAPA

Care Home Open Day was first conceived 7 years ago by a group of care providers who were anxious to change the image of care homes. All too often care homes are perceived in a negative way that is far from the reality for the majority. Care Home Open Day is now established in the care sector calendar as an opportunity to be ‘loud and proud’ about the great things that happen in care homes. By opening their doors to the local community, the homes can encourage visitors to learn more about the improvements that can be made to the quality of life of the residents who have made their home in a care setting.

Care Home Open Day has a few key values at its heart: friendship, making connections and celebrating older and vulnerable people. Each year a different theme is proposed that might appeal to the care homes and encourage them to explore different ways to engage with their local community. It is by no means compulsory to follow the theme but experience over time tells us that it does help to motivate staff and generate innovative ideas for events.

The theme for 2019 is ‘Celebrate the role of the Arts in Care’. For many people living in care homes connecting with the Arts brings real pleasure, adds to their health and wellbeing and can be a celebration of all the best things in their life. Some people are put off as soon as you say ‘The Arts’ but we are surrounded by art all of the time. Music playing in a shopping mall, statues in the park or a flower arrangement are all pieces of Art. In recent years a number of research projects have demonstrated the value of arts-based activities particularly for those living with dementia. An extract from the NAPA Care Home Choir Buddies, Connecting with Communities Report funded by Comic Relief perfectly illustrates the impact that an Art activity can have on one individual.

“A resident who suffers from acute anxiety had not left her room for two years.  She came to one of the choir sessions and then attended the final celebration event, coping with sitting in a room full of people that she didn’t know, happily talking to the 19-year-old students.”

The whole care home can see the impact of the Arts too. The team at Appleby House have built great links with their local community, inspired initially through Care Home Open Day, and routinely welcome local artists and visitors into the home.

Shona Bradbury, Appleby House Manager, says: I have seen first-hand how art holds the key to opening communication for so many people living with dementia. It doesn’t just provide an interesting activity, but can re-awaken people’s long neglected hobbies, bring opportunities for conversations and reminiscence, and help those who have lost the ability to communicate through conventional means to express their thoughts and feelings. Without a doubt, a creative approach to activities in Appleby House works for both residents and team members, making our home into a happier, calmer and healthier place.”

Care Home Open Day is led by 3 organisations – Care England, National Activity Providers Association and National Care Forum – who are all passionately committed to encouraging members of the community to visit a local care home. We hope that, through word of mouth, they will tell their friends and neighbours about the experience and help to break down some of the myths that sometimes exist about living in a care home.

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Edel Harris





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