Project Brings Music, Dance & Storytelling To Care Homes This Christmas

Music,-Dance-Storytelling-To-Care-HomesHome Service, a pioneering initiative designed to bring high quality arts experiences into care home settings, is delivering interactive, creative workshops to residents across Cornwall in the run up to Christmas.

Work has been commissioned in collaboration with Cornwall’s top art institutions, with the aim of helping older people in residential care interact with diverse art forms, from theatre to textiles, dance to drama – sparking creativity, physical activity and enjoyment.

As part of the project, Community Dance Artist Jayne Devlin – who is based in Helston – was selected to deliver dance performances developed collaboratively with care home residents, entitled ‘Moments of Breathe and Hand Jive’.

Jayne and her dancers Cathy Whitmore and Lauren Syrett based their work on the musical ‘Calamity Jane’, incorporating movements and props in response to ideas from residents at Pengover House in Liskeard, which specialises in supporting people with Dementia, Old Age and Mental Health conditions.

The team behind ‘Moments of Breathe and Hand Jive’ have been visiting other participating venues in the run up to Christmas, including Crossroads House Care Home in Scorrier, bringing a lively buzz of movement, music, smiles and laughter to the care home setting.

The performances jog memories, create a sense of community and alleviate stress, as well as allow staff and residents to enjoy themselves together.

Through another strand of the initiative, Story Republic, a programme from project partner KEAP based in Truro, has been creating and performing short stories at Anson Care’s Tremethick House in Redruth; artists Mac Dunlop and Elaine Ruth White talked to residents to uncover themes and threads for their specially woven tales.

Josie Skews, Anson Care’s Activities Coordinator, was delighted with the response:

“Residents normally would have retired to their rooms in the early evening, but they stayed for the performance and enjoyed hearing the stories that had been inspired by their own experiences and memories. This kind of behaviour change is really positive, and helps create a feeling of community and wellbeing in the run up to Christmas.”

Jayne Howard, Director of Arts for Health Cornwall and Lead Partner for Home Service, explained the benefits of the project in more detail:

“Creative engagement for older people has been linked to improved mobility, greater social interaction, stronger appetites and a generally better quality of life. It’s also a way of combating memory loss and reducing the feeling of isolation and loneliness many older people experience. This ground-breaking project brings artists, art institutions and the care sector together to provide fulfilling creative experiences for everyone involved.”

The Home Service project lead organisation isArts for Health Cornwallin Penryn. Arts partners areHall for CornwallandKEAPin Truro,Newlyn Art Gallery,Wren Musicin Okehampton andCreativity Worksin Bath and North East Somerset. Care organisations involved areBrunel Carein Bristol;Cornwall Carewho are Cornwall wide; andAnson Carebased in Redruth, Penzance and Portreath, withFalmouth Universityalso playing a key role in the project.

Home Service is funded byArts Council EnglandandThe Baring Foundation, who jointly committed over £250,000 to the project in January 2014, which will take place over three years with lasting impact