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What impact can the arts have on residents in care home settings?

Caroline D'Souza explores how arts-based activities can be incorporated into care home settings, and what some of the impacts can be on the residents.
Five years ago, I came into the organisation, and it was at a stage that it wanted to improve the quality of activity in its care homes. There was a lot of entertainment. There was a lot of quite, in a way, passive activity. There was some interactive activity. But in general, the activity was around people watching other people entertaining. I specifically sought out participatory artists because the way participatory artists work is very much in an inclusive and interactive way. And it’s very based on putting the person at the centre of the activity. It also reflects person-centred care, which is a model that many care homes adhere to, which is all about putting the person at the centre of care.
And in the same way, participatory art puts the person at the centre of the art activity. The outcome of this type of work for the residents is really far-reaching. And it can be a very small thing depending on that resident. Or it can be a much larger, much more visible thing. And it really depends on where the resident is at the time. So someone who may have a very advanced condition may be very still, may not talk, may be very crouched over. And for them, an outcome might be lifting their head, smiling, or tapping their foot, or doing something like this, or their eyes brightening up. So for that person, that’s a really big outcome.
And it’s a really important outcome. For another person, it might be that they have created a very beautiful piece of artwork that no one thought they could do. And it’s up in one of our exhibitions. And it’s much more of a tangible outcome. So it’s on a spectrum. And I think that’s really important to know.
It’s often very difficult to measure those outcomes, especially the ones that are the more smaller, in-the-moment outcomes with people with advanced dementia. Some other outcomes we see is that when a resident has been to one of our creative arts workshops, they eat better. The staff in the care home say their appetite was great. They ate their whole meal. It might be that they go out of a music session singing and humming and that they’re much more talkative for the next few hours. If they’re living with dementia, they may not remember that they’ve been to that activity. But we might have reported by the staff that their mood was lifted.

Caroline D’Souza, Creative Arts Development Manager at Jewish Care, explores how arts-based activities can be incorporated into care home settings, and what some of the impacts can be on the residents.

In this interview, you will:

  • Hear how one care home group, Jewish Care, went about improving the quality of activities for its residents.

  • Learn how participatory arts-based activities can be more beneficial to its residents than those that that are provided in the form of passive entertainment.

  • Hear about what some of the outcomes have been for residents as a result of participating in arts-based activities, and how these can vary from person to person.

  • Be introduced to the idea that outcomes are not always measureable, but often noticeable.

CREDITS We would like to extend a special thank you to the following individuals and organisations for providing supplementary footage and images for this video: * Jewish Care * Equal Arts.
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Dementia and the Arts: Sharing Practice, Developing Understanding and Enhancing Lives

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