From painting pictures and shaping sculptures, to musical moments and thought-provoking theatre, older people at Belong Crewe happily enjoy the arts as part of their everyday experiences in the dementia specialist’s care. Now, the residents have been embracing the latest initiative, making new creations to mark the National Day of Arts in Care Homes.
For this year’s ‘Field of Flowers’ theme, the Brookhouse Drive village’s customers invited little friends from the community as part of an intergenerational playdate session, run in partnership with nearby St. Andrew’s Church. The participants paired up to paint one another’s hands, used as printing tools to make a colourful arrangement. Residents were also joined by pupils from Gainsborough Primary and Nursery School to create lanterns using dried flowers and tissue paper. The schoolchildren then kindly gifted the finished pieces to their older partners to enjoy.
Jess Butler, experience coordinator at Belong Crewe, explains more: “The arts form a big part of our experience programme for our customers. The advantages of using creative expression for meaningful occupation is that everyone can take part, whatever their ability, and it provides sensory-rich experiences with a sense of purpose and achievement for the creator.”
Promoted by the National Activity Providers Association (NAPA), the National Day of Arts in Care Homes is funded by The Baring Foundation and The Rayne Foundation, and is designed to encourage and champion arts engagement in care settings, highlighting the wellbeing benefits for all involved.
The initiative complements Belong’s care strategy, advocating an active later life for its customers, which also includes health and fitness planning with in-house exercise specialists, and opportunities to network with schools and businesses and be involved in community projects and events. Its ongoing four-year relationship with Bluecoat, Liverpool’s contemporary arts centre, for example, has seen a number of positive wellbeing outcomes recognised by academics as renowned artists work alongside Belong’s customers in their homes.
Jess Butler continues: “It’s been wonderful participating in National Day of Arts in Care Homes. Though the arts are already well-embedded in our approach to care, we’ve enjoyed having the opportunity to share in this national event and our customers loved bringing this year’s theme to life.
“Whether it’s the engagement in an activity, the pleasure of watching a performer, or the sharing of creative ideas with schoolchildren, we know that the arts play an important role in enhancing lives by increasing self-esteem and engendering a strong sense of belonging.”