HIP ran two stories about care homes in the last issue as part of Dementia Action Week. This week we take a look at the use of creativity in care homes to tackle the stress caused by the Covid-19 pandemic with a project called Everyday Creativity in Care (ECC). This encourages residents to use creative pursuits to express their feelings and connect with others. As part of the scheme, dementia-friendly art boxes were delivered to nine care homes, while residents at two others took part in singing sessions.

The project was commissioned by East Sussex County Council’s public health team, supported by the authority’s cultural strategy and library teams, and overseen by Culture Shift – a Lewes-based arts charity – and is part of a larger county-wide Everyday Creativity project. This includes four other groups particularly affected by the pandemic: personal assistants supporting people in the community, furloughed and unemployed people, former rough sleepers and young people aged 14-19.

The art boxes were designed by ECC artists Marisa Gardner, Sarah Byrant and Lucy Groenewoud, with the help of care staff and families; they include art materials, sensory items and essential oil kits donated by Tisserand Aromatherapy. The boxes also include ‘creative cards’ to promote discussion and ideas. Artist Marisa says: “There are already some strong positive indicators to the pilot project with beautiful stories and connections already documented.”

The boxes were delivered to nine care homes in East Sussex including Elizabeth Court in Bexhill, and Whitecliff in St Leonards. Elizabeth Court Rest Home already has a person-centred activity programme in place but used the Everyday Creativity resources to promote further activities.

Home manager, Reece Welch, says: “The Everyday Creativity project has really helped enhance our activity provision for our residents and has given our staff the tools to do even more creative-based interventions with confidence.”

As part of an Everyday Creativity pilot, residents in two other East Sussex care homes benefitted from singing and creative sessions delivered by local professional musicians Jane Haughton and Nancy Cooley from Raise Your Voice. Together with choreographer Clare Whistler and percussionist Adam Bushell, they have created online videos for staff to use to support everyday singing, movement and music making. 

As well as activities for residents, gift packs have been created for care staff with pampering and wellbeing products donated by The Organic Alchemist and Bird & Blend.  A support network for activity co-ordinators at the participating care homes has also been developed allowing them to support each other and share ideas.

Members of the public can find out more about the Everyday Creativity project by contacting Catherine Orbach or Julia Roberts, co-directors of Culture Shift, at [email protected]

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