How creative ageing is boosting the wellbeing of older people
A £388,000 project is highlighting the benefits creativity can have on the health and wellbeing of older people.
Funded by Big Lottery till 2016 Creativity Matters, run by the charity Equal Arts, is working closely with the care sector challenging the culture of care.
Working with active older people in Gateshead, Newcastle and South Tyneside, projects Grand Gestures, an improvised dance group, and Sandtimers, a ukulele group, visit care settings interacting with residents and staff.
Since it launched Creativity Matters has worked with hundreds of older people and care home managers and staff to highlight the health and wellbeing benefits of creative ageing.
Michelle Cadby, a project manager with Equal Arts, said: “We wanted to help change the culture in care homes by showing a different way to engage with residents and to give older volunteers an opportunity to explore their creativity and do things they may not have done before.
“The projects also aims to combat isolation and improve the quality of life of older people with dementia, living in residential care homes.”
Supported by a dance teacher Grand Gestures sees a group of men and women taking part in improvised dance, creating their own movements to their own abilities.
The group of active older volunteers hold public ‘happenings’ of their work with some of them going into care settings, particularly where there are people living with dementia, to share their love of dancing.
Grand Gestures member Tommy Appleby, 89, from Heaton, said: “The group and Equal Arts have made a great difference to my life. To be honest they saved me. I cared for my wife for 25 years and became a bit of recluse, I didn’t socialise with anyone.
“It gives me a chance to be creative, keep active and dance freely. I enjoy taking our dance into care homes where we interact with residents. I like to think we’re able to help someone in some small way by being there.”
The Sandtimers, many who had never played the ukulele before, now take their practiced pieces into care settings for musical and singing sessions with residents.
Caught by the music bug the sessions have seen some care settings take the idea further with families and residents forming their own bands for small performances.
Among those who’ve seen the impact of the initiative is Jackie Murray, manager at Oakdale Lodge Care Home in South Shields.
Jackie, a former health commissioner, said: “Creativity Matters has had such a positive impact upon the residents and staff.
“Understanding the positive outcomes that are realised through music has helped us to embrace it. We now have our own musical instruments and music is a massive part of our everyday lives.
“The residents join in and they will sing and some who can will dance. The happiness and feelings of wellbeing is evident in their response. Families also feedback to us regularly how good it is to see their loved ones enjoying and getting involved with musical activities.”
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