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Angela’s Artful Approach Inspires Dementia Care Home Residents

A carer at a dedicated dementia care home in Dorset has turned her flair for art into an inclusive painting project that enables residents to collaborate and express themselves.

Angela Thorn, a Healthcare Assistant at Colten Care’s Fernhill, has engaged nine residents on what she expects will be just the first in a series of creative works.

Starting with a blank canvas and using brushes, sponges and acrylic paint, Angela led the group through the production of a giant landscape scene featuring a woodland walk, river and mountains.

The so-far untitled work, completed in four sessions, extends to more than a metre wide and is now on display at the home.

Angela said: “We started with the canvas flat on a table and we had four people working on it at the same time.

“I brought in some leaves and pieces of bark so the residents could see and touch them and have a sense of being outdoors.

“I initiated a background wash and then we built up the layers of paint, the contrasts in the sky and on the ground, the perspective and the shapes of features.

“I showed them various techniques in how to paint bark and leaves with sponges.

“It was lovely to step back and watch them begin to dab on their first touches of paint and take it from there in the directions they wanted.

“I gave them the freedom to be involved and to do what they wanted.

“It was like an ongoing story, created in the moment and with no constraints.

“I was expecting to have to get over some initial resistance but they got into it very quickly and really did enjoy it. It was entertaining and spontaneous.

“One lady who I knew likes art brought her own brushes and easel to mix the paint and she was in her element.”

“It was also lovely to hear from the residents themselves what holds them back from being creative and, on the other hand, what prompts them to have a go.”

After painting a tree in the picture, resident Doris Smith said: “I thought, I can do this. I really enjoyed it and I was surprised with what we were able to come up with and the outcome we achieved.”

Companionship Team member Ann Marie Knight said: “Angela has an artistic mind and has built a close relationship with our residents at Fernhill. Together they have created an amazing piece of art with the promise of more paintings to come.”