Everyday Creativity Care Project

Everyday Creativity Care is a six month project commissioned by Culture Shift and East Sussex Public Health. Lead by project artists Marisa Gardner, Sarah Bryant and Lucy Groenewoud the project has been co-designed with Care Staff and families from nine care homes in East Sussex to explore the impact of creative activities during lockdown on the residents, their relatives and care staff.

Project Artists, who all have experience of working in Care Home settings, consulted with experts in the field of dementia to develop inclusive, dementia friendly resources. Design was based around “in the moment” art based interventions. Each care home received a box filled with high quality accessible art materials, sensory items, and essential oil kits.

Creative Cards are a key part of the program, with creative prompts sparking discussion and connection. Cards are centered around imagination based questions and activities, encouraging digital connection where possible. Resources can be used for group activities, but crucially they can be used for a person centred, one to one approach. Creative interventions can be delivered bedside with residents who may not be able to join in group activities or choose to stay in their room.

Project Artist Marisa says: “ As restrictions ease, the project hopes that family members will get involved and use the resources to enjoy with their loved ones during their visits. There are already some strong positive indicators to the pilot project with beautiful stories and connections already documented.”

Activity Coordinator Margo says “The box is amazing; it gives a really wide range of variety for person centred activities! I love being part of your project and every single card is a lovely challenge for me as I look at a different situation – life stories , activities.

I am very happy having the experience of the great outcome for the residents, seeing them being independent and have their ideas, thoughts, feelings coming through every single card. I think it’s very much beneficial for them.”

Project Artist Lucy says: “From the initial consultations, we recognised the huge toll and impact the last year had on care staff mental health. We felt it vital that we offer mental health support and recognition to this amazing, dedicated group of people. We created gift packs for care staff with pampering and well-being products and set up a support network for activity coordinators, including a WhatsApp group, and weekly online meetings. Activity Coordinators use this forum to connect, support each other, share work and ideas and take part in gentle creative activities that support their wellbeing.”

Sue, one of the Activity Coordinators who joins the weekly Zoom on her day off says: “I love it. I love connecting with all the other activity coordinators and hearing ideas. You have breathed new life and enthusiasm into two ‘older’ ladies who were desperately searching for inspiration.”

Elizabeth Court Rest home, who are participating in the project, already have an extensive person centred activity programme in place, and Activity Coordinator Lindsay schedules in one to one time with each resident on a weekly basis.

Lindsay has been working with residents using resources from the Everyday Creativity Care project to facilitate creative moments including a photography treasure hunt, a tea tasting activity and poetry writing.

She says: “The project has been useful in helping me to look at activities from a different perspective, for example I have started using technology in one to one interventions. With some of our residents we are using the activities to see if they make a positive difference to pain management. The results have shown pain is less and mental wellbeing is considerably improved after the activities.”

One of the project aims is that the cards can be used by all staff in the Care Home to instigate small creative moments during the day, supporting person centred care. Lindsay has displayed the Creative Cards and resources in the care home communal area, encouraging all staff and residents to engage.

Elizabeth Court Rest 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, something which has been lacking since the pandemic forced us to close our doors to all the external creative experts and providers. We are always seeking to highlight the good work that goes on in care homes and this project helps demonstrate the caring, compassionate, imaginative, meaningful interventions still going on, even during the hardest of times. With increased isolation and loneliness a very pertinent risk, this project helps us to show #RightHereRightNow what excellent work is being done so that we can #BeHeard.”

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