Oomph! Regional Wellbeing Coordinator, Lisa Wilson, discusses the importance of Arts in care settings, and how this translates practically for Wellbeing Team. Lisa's experiences in care homes delivering training sessions with Oomph! Wellness has given her first-hand experience of seeing the benefits of the arts for older people.
Life would be dull without ‘the arts’ – the arts support us to live life to the full. Appreciating the arts and valuing the impact it has on people living in a care environment is crucial to supporting person-centered wellbeing. Whilst it can be easy to oversimplify “the arts” to just arts and crafts, the arts actually covers a broad spectrum of art, music, and culture, each of which can represent an important part of our lives and our identities.
People’s individual identity can become blurred when they move into a communal care environment. This is why it is vital to identify the various avenues of someone’s culture and how this forms part of their life story, to ensure that we can enable them to continue to lead the life they love. As well as many other areas, life stories support us to recognise what someone values in the world of art, music, theatre or literature, and - when used well - enable us to drive personalised care and interaction, every single day. What one person values will be very different to someone else. For example, someone may wish to attend the weekly ‘Let’s get creative’ club and be a leading member of the choir, whilst someone else may prefer listening to music on their personal headset and watching their favourite classical performances in their bedroom.
Beginning with art, there is no right or wrong – it is open to personal interpretation. It empowers each person’s sense of creativity, and no matter how big or small the artwork, it provides a sense of achievement. Art can cover a wide range of mediums, from photography to painting and sculpture, providing a great form of self-expression. Why not host an art exhibition in the care home and open it up to families, friends and the local community as a great opportunity to showcase the hard work and time people have put into their creations? You could even auction pieces off to support fundraised initiatives.
Music is one of the most powerful tools used in care homes. It provides huge benefits to cognitive function and releases endorphins that support pain management and socialisation. Enjoying music does not require any skill or ability, and therefore it is inclusive to all! From public choir performances to 1:1 personalised playlists through headphones, music sets a scene and enables someone to escape from any troubles of reality.
As much as art, music, theatre, and literature play an important part of life in a care home, this does not need to be confined to indoors - many care homes interact with ‘the arts’ through theatre trips, music concerts, and community art classes. Trips out can help form intergenerational connections in the community with visits to nurseries and schools, where the arts play an integral role in bonding and shared experiences. No matter what your age, the arts are enjoyed at every stage of life – and even better when they are enjoyed together!
We can’t underestimate the importance of the arts in care environments – supporting people to enjoy art, music, theatre, and literature means supporting people to continue doing the things they love. This means we need to make time to truly identify, encourage, enjoy and celebrate the arts!
Lisa Wilson - Wellbeing Coordinator - Oomph! Wellness