James Cropper, the founder and director of Creative Minds, has been working with residents of Care UK’s Appleby House care home on Longmead Road for the past year. The results were unveiled in the ’Appleby Tate’ at the end of June by the Mayor and Mayoress of Epsom and Ewell, councillors Christopher and Elizabeth Frost.
The opening coincided with this year’s National Care Home Open Day, an annual event to highlight the great care provided by the UK’s care homes as well as the positive contributions that are made by care home residents. One of this year’s themes is the arts, which is also an area supported by the Care UK wellbeing foundation.
Shona Bradbury, home manager of Appleby House, said: “James visits regularly to work with residents. He sees the creative potential in everyone, but what makes the difference is that he makes the art sessions easy, fun and engaging for residents, all of whom are living with different types of dementia and at various stages of the condition.
“We’ve noticed that residents – who would normally not be able to concentrate for more than a few minutes – enjoy the hour-long art sessions. We are so proud of what residents have created that we began removing pictures from the home’s walls and replacing them with their paintings. But recently, we had gathered enough amazing art that we felt we could use the main walkway from our reception as a gallery. It has fantastic wall space – so we’ve launched the Appleby Tate.”
Feedback from residents about James’s art sessions has been overwhelmingly positive, even from those who aren’t confident about their abilities. “I am not good at it,” said Joyce, one of the residents, “but I still make the most of it. James is very nice and helpful.”
Jacqueline Dye, one of the home’s activities coordinators, said: “James knows how to bring out the creative, artistic flair of different residents with varying abilities and confidence levels. He’s very passionate about what he does and the residents have really taken to him.”
Tracey Judd, who works alongside Jacqueline, said: “James creates a very calming – almost therapeutic – environment in which he brings out the residents’ creative side. It’s amazing to see residents who wouldn’t normally take part in an activity stay for the whole session and come back time and again.”
Shona added: “James has surpassed all our expectations and has created so much more than just an art class. Looking at the art the residents have produced, it challenges people’s views about what someone living with dementia can achieve.”
Care UK manages 114 care homes and 13 day clubs nationwide.