The benefits of arts in care homes

24 September 2021

Female painting in a care home

At Exemplar Health Care, our care focuses on much more than people’s physical health and medical needs. Our holistic approach to care includes all aspects of people’s health and wellbeing including their social, emotional, spiritual, environmental and intellectual needs.

The ‘arts’ plays an important role in care, enhancing people’s emotional wellbeing to combat stress and anxiety.

And we’re not just talking about painting and drawing – ‘arts’ in our care homes involves all aspects of arts, including music, drama, cooking, dancing and singing.

This National Day of Arts in Care Homes, Dan, Life Skills Coordinator at Quarryfields care home in Doncaster, talks about the importance of the arts in care homes.

In my role as Life Skills Coordinator, I see how the arts has a positive impact on people’s emotional wellbeing every day.

The arts is such a broad field, and we love to explore each of the avenues here at Quarryfields. Every service user we support is creative in one way or another, and we always make sure that each person can flourish in their respective field.

We are very much a person-centred home, meaning the service users often decide what creative activities we’ll be doing! This can range from sewing to drawing or writing poetry, and we actively encourage this.

We try and weave as much creativity as possible into our everyday activities, and each service user has the creative freedom to bring something new to the table, which not only helps them but us as well. I can’t even begin to count the amount of times that someone has taught me something beneficial that I can then use in my job!

The power of music

I love to use music to help draw memories and emotions from our service users. A certain song is enough to make someone’s face light up, and even though some of our service users cannot communicate verbally, it’s evident that a plethora of memories are going round their head, and it’s very rewarding to see.

I’m very much music orientated, and one of my favourite activities is getting out my guitar or keyboard, and playing songs for our service users.

I have a list full of their favourite songs, and it’s always nice to have a sing-a-long, but I also love when a completely new song is requested as it keeps me on my toes!

Music helps people with a broad range of complex needs and it has amazing benefits!

Before venturing into an activities role with Exemplar Health Care, I used to work in the office, but I would always go onto each unit and interact with the residents. I would talk with one resident and she would interact with me, but due to her dementia, the words wouldn’t make sense, but I would carry the conversation on and match her emotions.

A few weeks later, we had a singer come into the home and I popped my head in for a dance. I danced with the very same resident, and she sang along to every single word, and it made me cry! It was as if I was dancing with a completely different person!

This was the exact moment that I knew I wanted to go into activities, and this is where I truly learned the importance of music.

Getting crafty

Arts and crafts helps to keep your brain ticking and bring creative ideas to life. It can give people a voice that would perhaps not be vocal in other planned activities, and gives people a sense of achievement.

For me personally, I don’t mind admitting that I am terrible at arts and crafts! I’ve never been able to draw more than a wonky stick man, but I always like to get involved and use my lack of expertise as a way for our service users to show me how to do it properly.

One of our service users loves oil painting, and on his individual weekly planner he asks to paint every Friday. He paints on wooden boards and does three pictures every week - his favourite painting is a vase of roses backed by a beautiful blue sky.

Once he has painted them, he gives them out to various staff and service users, and although I haven’t been one of the lucky recipients yet, I’m hoping I will be really soon!

Life is what you bake it

Cooking promotes independence and that is something that we’re extremely big on.

We don’t have onsite kitchen staff at Quarryfields, which means that the colleagues and service users do the cooking for their respective unit.

Each service user has different capabilities, so one might be able to physically cook the food, whilst another might only be able to weigh the ingredients, or count the number of eggs, but this is how we promote independence!

At Quarryfields we have The Platform, which is a volunteer led café that serves the colleagues and service users at Quarryfields.

It used to also serve the general public but that has been temporarily halted due to the pandemic.

They work on a rota system, meaning that each service user has a weekly shift that they attend. They’re encouraged to bake whatever they like, and once the delicious treats are baked, they’re put up for sale to other service users and colleagues.

It’s an absolutely fantastic service and it gives the service users work experience, as well as teaching them therapeutic baking skills!

Person-centred care with Exemplar Health Care

Exemplar Health Care is a leading provider of specialist nursing care for adults living with a range of complex and high acuity needs.

Our approach to care is personalised to the individuals that we support – we work with them, their loved ones and professionals to design a care plan that’s tailored to their needs and goals.

We encourage people to continue to do the things that they enjoy, as well as develop new hobbies and access education and volunteering if they wish. And we adjust our approach as a person’s condition develops and changes.

Our high staffing levels of Registered Nurses and trained Health Care Assistants are determined by each person’s individual needs. This enables us to work at their own pace and build trust, and provide support with all aspects of their life, which leads to improved person-centred and longer-term outcomes.

Read more about our care and contact our Referrals Team to make a referral.

Rewarding careers in social care

At Exemplar Health Care, we have lots of different career opportunities where you could use your skills to make a big difference to the lives of adults living with complex needs.

Here are some of our most popular roles.

You can view all of our job vacancies on our online job search.