Creativity and garden gigs supporting positive mental health
We've been touring the gardens and car parks of care homes and hospital wards bringing a song and smile to those at risk of isolation.
Known as Keeping Connected, our project funded by County Durham Community Foundation, sees Singing Hinnies visits, creative activity packs posted to homes and an Art 2 Art phone support service available to older people in County Durham and Darlington.
Douglas Hunter, Equal Arts Chief Executive, said: “As measures ease for many, for those accessing our services little is changing. The issue and impact of isolation in our communities has been exacerbated by the onset of Covid-19.
“The fall out as measures ease is the impact to mental health and wellbeing. We’ve quickly adapted our services to continue supporting older people in creative ways that can support positive mental health.”
Maintaining regular contact, connecting with others, learning new skills and being mindful can all support wellbeing.
Ted Fletcher Court in Darlington is among the venues run by Darlington Borough Council receiving regular Singing Hinnies garden gigs and remote group creative workshops.
Councillor Kevin Nicholson, the council’s cabinet member for health and housing, said: “We have worked closely with Equal Arts for the last year after successfully launching the HenPower project at Ted Fletcher Court, which is one of Darlington’s sheltered housing complexes.
“The lockdown posed many new challenges with regards to engaging with people and trying to reduce their feelings of anxiety and isolation, but we have tried to innovate and worked with various groups and charities to overcome these barriers which has hopefully maintained good mental health and helped people to safely come together and enjoy activities such as the Singing Hinnies.”
Others benefiting from the project, made possible with funding from Durham Freemasons and County Durham Community Foundation, are patients on Lanchester Road Hospital’s Roseberry Ward, operated by Tees, Esk and Wear Valleys NHS Foundation Trust (TEWV).
The ward provides care and treatment for older people who have a wide range of mental health difficulties. Patients have been receiving monthly Create at Home packs filled with arts activities and weekly Singing Hinnies visits by professional musicians.
Roseberry Ward staff Vivienne Cowell, an occupational therapist and Jayne Fodden, activity coordinator, have been instrumental in bringing creativity to patients.
Vivienne said: “The impact of the music from the Singing Hinnies always proves to be an uplifting and enjoyable session for both staff and patients. Usually the singing ends up with a bit of dancing and some tambourines to add to the overall atmosphere! Being in hospital and away from loved ones can be a difficult time for anyone, more so during the current pandemic.
“A break from all that using singing, is a positive and effective medium to bring a smile and some welcome respite.”
Among the patients on the ward is Jenny Wilkinson, who added: “We have a great time singing along and they play all our requests. It’s so kind of them to come and makes us all feel involved.”
To find out receiveing the creative packs, remote workshops or a Singing Hinnies visit email [email protected] or call us on 0191 261 1619.