Supporting Residents With Dementia

A creative national arts programme from one care home provider is helping to support residents and shine a light on inspiring individuals living in Sanctuary Care homes across England.

Sanctuary Group’s Shine! project offers a range of quality experiences through specialist arts partners including movement, dance, poetry, art, music and film. Activities are fully participative and inclusive for people living with dementia and for those with disabilities.

Making a difference

The delivery of activities for those living with dementia is hugely beneficial to their wellbeing. Shine! draws on residents’ interests, while allowing them to express their feelings in ways which are meaningful to them.

Sanctuary has teamed up with various arts partners for the innovative programme which is reaching out to hundreds of residents and further supporting care home staff.

The Group has been working with full mask theatre company Vamos Theatre on an interactive show created for its care homes’ residents.

Sharing Joy is part performance and part interaction, playfulness and laughter. It uses music, dance, mask, nostalgia, puppetry and general hilarity to encourage residents to celebrate life and its joys.

The performance aims to engage residents of all ages and stages of health, particularly those living with dementia. Through the use of full masks, music, dance, movement and interaction, the show finds deep connections with everyone in the home, stimulating their inclusion in activities and evoking happy memories from their past.

There have been some wonderful responses from residents engaged in the programme including one who commented, ‘it was the best time I’ve had since my wedding night!’, and another who was able to reconnect with her childhood days telling staff, ‘I absolutely loved it – it reminded me of when I was in a play when I was younger’.

Other thought-provoking activities that have taken place involved people painting, using pictures and storytelling to remember and discuss their favourite foods.

Training for the future  

As well as supporting residents and providing opportunities for engagement, Shine! is helping with the further development of Sanctuary Care staff in the homes so they can deliver the principles of the programme as part of everyday care.

Through a partnership with Green Candle Dance Company, two activities leaders are currently studying for a nationally recognised diploma with the group, which will give them the skills, knowledge and confidence to lead dance classes with residents after the programme.

The dance sessions have proved particularly engaging with those in the care homes, giving them the opportunity to reconnect with their past and drive sensory stimulation through the use of music and colour.

Another staff member who has particularly benefited from the programme is Urvashi Kapur, an activities assistant at a care home in Greater London.

Urvashi has worked with other staff and one of Sanctuary’s delivery partners on the creation and animated performance of a well known film, as chosen by residents from the home.

Deciding on the 1958 classic South Pacific, everyone in the home came together to practice memorable scenes and musical hits, as well as organising Hawaiian-inspired dress and creating beautifully painted backdrops and homemade flower garlands.

Urvashi commented: “The main purpose of my role is to create a tailored activities programme that engages with all our residents. Activities often vary from animal therapy, sensory activities and table-top games but never once have we organised our own film shoot – we led on the entire process from creating our own lovely props to recording the shoot, and it was truly inspiring to be a part of.

“Shine! is a fantastic project – not only does it bring talented and artistic people to care homes, it also highlights and strengthens the talents in the team and residents. Everyone had a fantastic time and we can’t wait to do something similar again. The whole project was exciting and extremely uplifting!”

To find out more about the Shine! programme, visit