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What difference did it make for you and for the people you care for? Which activity did you try? What are your favourite arts activities?

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Caring Creatively Networking Day 2013 – Testimonials Tree

At the Caring Creatively Networking Day on 7th June 2013, we asked delegates to write on a leaf to add to the Testimonials Tree:
  • What is your favourite arts activity?
  • Why do you love running arts activities?
  • What is your best arts activity ‘golden moment’?
  • What effect does arts activity have on your care home, your residents, on you?

These are some of their responses… (to see a full list of responses, download ‘Caring Creatively Testimonials Tree’ below)

Testimonials Tree Sept 2013 (1)

Art inspires us to be the creative person we have always wanted to be!!!

Arts Impact - we carry out crafts session every week and the amount of pleasure and fun we have is immense. There is paper, glue and glitter everywhere!! The service users love it!!
Staveley Centre

At the Meadows we did a life tree all about their life, what they did and liked.

Loud singing and music this wakes up people even those with advanced dementia and brings the group together. It makes everyone happy.
Sally Thomas, Smalley Hall.

Hat Box - selection of hats, wigs and a large mirror – the residents love it! Lots of fun and laughter!
Longmoor Lodge, Sandiacre

Arts Impact - “does impact” on our resident’s life by bringing joy, happiness and a good feeling of wellbeing. The social interaction between residents and staff was amazing.

Musical Bingo - residents all enjoyed this activity. Residents ask for this weekly. We involve a café afternoon along with this. A very good social and interacting idea.

Reminiscence - I led a reminiscence activity – discussing holidays (past) – residents really enjoyed telling me happy memories they have had. It has now been created into a display.
Jessica Holmes, Ashmere

I would recommend everyone to try circle dancing! As soon as we started swaying, everyone had a big smile on their face. It would work well in every home and connect the residents together!

Whilst taking part in an arts activity a lady commented on her using leather (as we were) she had made her own handbags after going to night school. Shortly after she passed away and I realised that this piece of information which I talked to her daughter about could have been lost.

I enjoy dancing with my residents to entertain them, make them join in, make them feel youthful and just for a laugh.

Using a sing-along using songs they know well. I printed out lyrics big enough for everyone to see. Also added dance moves and reminiscence.
Kayleigh Pearce

The Painted Teapot, Dronfield - they come to you really enjoyed by all.
Cheryl Oaklands

Started a knitting circle – Knitting for charity garments and toys.
Milford House/ Coach House

Group knitting/crocheting squares, in the group or at home, all sewn together to make blankets, to raffle or to use in the house. Joint project.

I really enjoyed doing the textile reminiscent course with Karen. She has been a fantastic inspiration on new ideas. I have done a few courses with her and some really lovely ideas have been taken back to my care home. Thank you

Poetry- its benefits cannot be underestimated. I worked with a resident who was 97 and she could still recite lengthy poems she had learned as a child/teenager. This impressed upon other residents and visitors in our poetry group. We also had a book published at our nursing home which comprised poems and memories of pupils age 70-100! It was called “memories are made of this”.
Brookview Care home, Dronfield

To see the silent dignified tears, rolling down the cheeks of a lady who feels the need to smile all day everyday had a huge impact on me. We must find ways of reaching people creatively. It’s not the high voltage stuff that matters sometimes but the gentle genuine connection. We did poetry with John!

Craft idea
• Using modelling clay to make flowers.
• You can buy Fimo from any craft shop.
• It’s great exercise for the hands.
• Residents love the bright colours (you can even get glow in the dark!).
• Afterwards the models are cooked in the oven so residents have something to take away.

Residents and staff discover Hidden Talents in North East Derbyshire

Hidden Talents exhibition 2013Older people and care staff from eight residential and nursing care homes across North East Derbyshire met together to view the results of the ‘Hidden Talents’ project which was awarded funding from the Big Lottery Fund. The Older People’s Arts Forum, a community group based in North East Derbyshire, scooped £9,810 which has been spent in residential and nursing homes. The project, entitled ‘Hidden Talents’, aimed to teach new skills and reawaken hidden creative talents within older people, care staff and volunteers involved. The project included working with singers, textile and mosaic artists and resulted in an exhibition of their artwork created during the project.

Amy Thompson, administrator at Morton Grange, Morton said: ‘we have been really pleased to have these arts workshops, it gave the residents a chance to be creative and the staff gained new skills. Everyone has been really looking forward to seeing the finished artwork at this exhibition.’

Julia Fletcher, Chair of the Older People’s Arts Forum said ‘the Older People’s Arts Forum is thrilled to have received funding for this project from the Big Lottery Fund. It gave care staff, volunteers and older people in residential settings the opportunity to show their skills and creativity. This exhibition offers everyone involved in the project a chance to meet each other and view the results of the project.’

For more information about the Older People’s Arts Forum, North East Derbyshire, contact 

 My Story: Sarah Taylor,  Presentation Sisters Care Centre, Matlock

“As part of arts:impact we had 10 workshops with John Lindley, who is a published poet with experience of working creatively with groups of all ages. Initially, when I found out that we would be doing poetry, I must admit I was a little disappointed that we didn’t have crafts. But as I observed the positive impact on the group and watched John in action each week, I knew we had been given exactly the right choice. John’s sessions were gentle, funny, illuminating, emotional and inspiring. Each week John brought along poetry books from which he would initially read and suggest a few poems and then invite the group to remember favourite or poignant poems. From fairly early on it was lovely to see the residents bringing in their own poetry collections which they would recite for the group. We even worked as a group to create some really good poems of our own!  Copy of Arts Impact 281112 010 for web SMALL

There were lots of highlights! I was pleased to see an activity taking place that I had not felt confident enough to lead myself. We are very aware of the importance of variety in activity provision, but providers tend to play to their strengths and so external input gave us the opportunity to try something new. The greatest benefit of this arts project was the impact on the lives of the residents. Each week I saw people engaged and absorbed, taken away for an hour on a creative journey. It really made a huge difference. The poetry group brought out parts of our residents’ personalities that we hadn’t seen before. There were lovely moments when a recited poem would spontaneously have the whole group joining in – snatched memories of poems learnt long ago. For those residents who struggle with verbal communication, it was easy to see how much they enjoyed the sessions, with thoughtful gazes, tears, clapping, laughter and very often tapping and nodding along with the rhythms of the poems.

The group dynamic started off on the right foot with John’s sensitive leadership. It felt straight away, a place for sharing and members within the group grew in confidence each week. We all listened and encouraged and responded which led to such positive and meaningful experiences. One very shy lady who came along each week delighted and surprised us all with snippets from her own poetry book which she felt comfortable within the group to recite and share. She described joining the group as being a ‘life changing’ experience for her. Another lady, who at times struggles with her life in a care setting, wasn’t sure at all about coming along, but each week the reluctance to participate waned and she eventually looked forward each week to the sessions as they provided a lot of joy for her. Another participant had previously suffered a stroke and had difficulty reading aloud. The group encouraged her and showed how much they wanted to listen to her and so she felt confident enough to recite some tricky rhythmic poetry. It was lovely to see the appreciation shown by the group and the positive effect this then had on the lady.

Above all, the poetry brought alive memories and encouraged emotion and connection which is so essential and is often not managed within care for the elderly.  The project created interest, excitement, and a talking point; it joined people together. We were proud to be part of it and very sad when it ended, and we really want to continue poetry activity.”

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