Evaluating City Arts’ Creativity in Care Project

Date published: 20 Jan 2014

Posted by: Joe Pick

Artist shows work to older person

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After a lot of hard work, we are pleased to be able to share our evaluation of the Creativity in Care programme.  It highlights what was learnt and achieved during the project, which included an artist’s residency, mentoring for activity co-ordinators and several training events.  The report contains lots that will be of use for anyone with an interest in creating art with older people, particularly those working with older people in care.

Download the report

It’s an exciting time for City Arts.  As we plan the delivery of a 3-year funded older people’s arts programme, reviewing our past work has inspired us as we move into the next phase.

Creativity in Care was commissioned by Nottinghamshire County Council.  We looked at how we could respond to the environment of a care home as a whole, and developed an approach to introducing creative work that addressed the individual needs of the residents.  We wanted to establish a way of working that improved older people’s engagement in arts activities whilst also developing a structure that supported the care home’s Activities Co-ordinators to confidently lead arts activities.

A series of training and consultation sessions with Activity Co-ordinators informed the design of the project. During the training one participant said:

“I wish there was more recognition across care settings that the arts are a genuine means to improve and maintain health and well-being”.

Rebecca Beinart was artist in residence for the project.  At the care home she had to stand in the shoes of an Activity Co-ordinator and experience their daily challenges.  She learnt that there is no one size fits all approach to working with older people in care; what might work for an individual one day, may not work the next. The residency certainly highlighted the exceptional empathy, skill and resilience amongst care home staff that work within the care homes.

We found that trying to produce an artwork each session was not a realistic aim. Residents with severe dementia need a subtle, more intuitive approach with less emphasis on verbal communication. We devised activities to meet this need.

The Activity Co-ordinator at Eastgate Care said that the artist’s residency had:

“opened my mind to new ways of working and finding different resources that I didn’t know existed” and that “with the limited time Becky had with us we found her extremely helpful and knowledgeable and she gave us the ideas and information to proceed with projects …. we miss her already”.

The short programme has helped inform an effective model for the development of on-going work in care homes in Nottinghamshire. The training sessions have provided us with an opportunity to talk directly to Activity Co-ordinators, address common issues and establish a network to exchange ideas between care homes. This process has broadened the knowledge of, and access to, local resources that can support the cultural and creative engagement of older people in care.

Many thanks to Eastgate Care Group and all of the busy, dedicated and talented individuals working in the many care homes to join us for this programme.

Thanks also go to Kevin Tennant and Helen Ackroyd at Nottinghamshire County Council, Rebecca Beinart – artist in residence, training partners Elizabeth Morris & Jo Stockdale (CLADAC) and Chronicle Arts.