NATIONAL research into the impact of arts on people’s wellbeing is being explored in a Northumberland town.
Residents living at The Oaks Care Home in Blyth are among those taking part in a study into the potential benefits of creativity and hen-keeping for those living in care and with dementia.
Pioneering the study in the North East are Hill Care-run venues The Oaks Care Home, in Blyth, and Pelton Grange Care Home, in Chester-le-Street.
The six-month evaluation by Northumbria University focuses on regular activities run by Equal Arts taking place at five centres across the UK.
The research, which uses dementia-friendly evaluation measures, follows an increased understanding that creativity remains in people living with dementia while other cognitive functions decline.
As members of the first HenPower project in Northumberland, residents and staff take on the shared responsibility of looking after their new feathered friends while taking part in regular creative activities.
They’ve worked with our HenPower associate Sam Burgess exploring colour through printing, water colour and collage. She said: “Right from the start we’ve had brilliant support from staff at The Oaks working and creating together with residents. The group has a real enthusiasm for the different sessions, and it’s been fantastic to see them grow in confidence with the artwork they create.”
Angela Hedley is activities coordinator at the setting, this month she was named ‘Best Activities Co-ordinator for People Living with Dementia' at the Dementia Care Awards 2019 for her work supporting residents. She said: “The creative sessions have really taken off at The Oaks, the residents love to see Sam every week and one resident who never usually takes part in arts and crafts has given it a go and produces lovely pieces of work. Working alongside Sam has also increased my confidence in working with new materials and just trying stuff.
“To win the national dementia award was mind blowing and I dedicated to my lovely residents. I feel privileged to have been nominated and overwhelmed that I won.”
Jules Walker, Customer Relations Officer at Hill Care, said: “The HenPower project has been a huge success at a number of our homes across the North East and we’re delighted to be expanding the scope to include The Oaks and Pelton Grange.
“The effect of hen-keeping and the associated creativity sessions has been amazing for all our residents, especially those living with dementia. We’re sure the findings from the Northumbria University study will reflect the significant impact we’ve seen first-hand.”
On November 22 the dining room, lounge and reception at the home in Durban Street were adorned with residents’ artwork created over the past few months for the new gallery space.