Dare To Imagine Artists and care home staff working together to embed creativity in care homes ARTISTS’ RESIDENCIES IN CARE HOMES PROGRAMME 2019-23
2 Dare To Imagine DEDICATION This report is dedicated to all those care home residents, staff, families and loved ones everywhere who died or were impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic. Report production This report is based on the Artists’ Residencies in Care Homes (ARCH) project, that was funded by Paul Hamlyn Foundation. It has been produced in collaboration with all project partners. Magic Me authored sections one and three with contributions from Anglia Ruskin University on the impact of Covid-19. The sections about each partner and their residency were written by those organisations. The Anglia Ruskin University research team devised the project evaluation, collected and analysed the data, and authored sections five, six, and seven on the research approach, research findings, and recommendations from the project. They also edited the final report. Acknowledgements We would like to thank the care homes and their staff members, residents, and their family members who gave up their time to take part in this study and the arts organisations and artists. Without everyone’s active participation this research could not have taken place. Anglia Ruskin University (ARU) The ARU research team was led by Professor Hilary Bungay and co-led by Professor Carol Munn-Giddings prior to her retirement in 2021. Dr Ceri Wilson and Anna Dadswell were coresearchers throughout the project. Hilary, Carol, Ceri and Anna all have specialist expertise in researching arts, health and wellbeing, and in using qualitative and creative research methods. The team previously conducted the Arts Council England-funded Creative Journeys project which explored the impact of participatory arts activities on the social relationships of older people in care home settings. They have published widely on the impacts of the arts on older people and in care home settings. Dr Ceri Wilson (Co-Investigator) is a Senior Research Fellow in Mental Health and lead author for this report Anna Dadswell (Co-Investigator) is a Research Fellow in Social Work and Social Policy Professor Hilary Bungay (Principal Investigator) is a Professor of Arts for Health and Wellbeing Professor Carol Munn-Giddings (Co-Principal Investigator 2019-2021) is an Emeritus Professor of Participative Inquiry & Collaborative Practice Cover photo: Rich Rusk
Full Report 3 Contents Section 1: ARCH Aims Aims of the ARCH programme 5 The original timeline 5 Section 2: The Partners Magic Me 7 Excelcare 8 Gecko 10 curious directive 11 New Adventures 12 Fevered Sleep 13 Section 3: The Programme Background and context 15 Setting up the partnerships 15 Getting started 16 Covid-19 disruption 18 Legacy phase 19 Section 4: The Residencies Lime Court and Gecko 21 Longfield and curious directive 25 St Fillans and New Adventures 30 Sherrell House and Fevered Sleep 34 Section 5: The Research Research aims 41 Research methods 41 Section 6: The Research Findings Power of the participatory arts 44 Setting up for success 46 Artists and care home staff collaboration 50 Creative practice in care home contexts 55 Legacy and embedding 60 Section 7: Conclusions Key learning and recommendations 68 References 71
4 Dare To Imagine Section 1: ARCH Aims Photo: Stephen Daly
Full Report 5 Aims of the ARCH programme Magic Me developed a Theory of Change for the four-year Artists’ Residencies in Care Homes (ARCH) programme. The aims were that on its completion: • Four participating Excelcare homes have improved relationships and understanding between staff and residents, informed by arts practice. • The care sector has raised expectations of what the arts can be and do in care homes and has been inspired and challenged to integrate them into the culture of homes and the lives of residents. • The four arts partners have increased understanding, skills and confidence working with care homes and are committed to building this work into their future programmes. • Magic Me is stronger, with increased evidence, expertise and understanding of the practice and potential of the arts in care homes; strong working partnerships and profile across a wider geography; and is thus better positioned to influence others and attract future investment. The original timeline The original timeline shifted significantly due to the disruption and impact of the Covid-19 pandemic: an overview of both the original and the actual timelines are shown below. Original timeline Phase 1: Research & development (R&D) Between October 2019 – March 2020 Focus on building relationships between the care home and arts partners Test ideas through arts partner delivering activity in care home Phase 2: Main residency Between April 2020 – March 2021 Larger scale residency takes place Phase 3: Learning and legacy Between April 2021 – March 2022 Arts partner and care home together identify learning and find ways to create legacy for the home ARU Research Report published and findings shared with arts and care sectors Further dissemination and development April 2022 - March 2023 Actual timeline Phase 1: Research & development (R&D) Between October 2019 – March 2020 Focus on building relationships between the care home and arts partners Test ideas through arts partner delivering activity in care home Covid-19 disruption From March 2020 – ongoing Care homes and much of the UK went through various stages of lockdown and restrictions The ARCH programme stopped, though partners kept in touch where possible and some remote/distanced work took place in 2021 Phase 2: Main residency Between April 2022 – March 2023 Larger scale residency took place Phase 3: Learning and legacy Between October 2022 – March 2023 Arts partner and care home together identify learning and find ways to create legacy for the home Further dissemination and development Between January 2023 – ongoing ARU Research Report published and findings shared with arts and care sectors
6 Dare To Imagine Section 2: The Partners Photo: Lily Ash Sakula and Georgia Akbar
Full Report 7 Magic Me Magic Me exists to combat ageism: our vision is a world where everyone can enjoy their unique creativity and full potential. We believe everyone has a past, present, future and an imagination – a wealth of stories, ideas and dreams to inspire art making. Magic Me is a pioneer in intergenerational arts practice, sparking dialogue between generations and across cultures. For more than 30 years Magic Me has partnered with care homes and schools in Tower Hamlets, east London and practising artists to create powerful artworks and performances, which challenge how society thinks about ageing. Today Magic Me prioritises widening access to the arts and community building in Tower Hamlets and improving the quality of life for individuals in care homes in London, Essex and beyond. Since collaborating on Creative Journeys in 2017, we have grown working partnerships with care providers across Essex, including our current Magic Moments programme. Initially commissioned by Essex County Council in 2021 to combat loneliness amongst older care home residents during lockdown, Magic Moments offers high-quality, impactful, creative, sensory activities, which improve the quality of everyday life for residents, delivered by care home staff, trained and supported by skilled artists. The Artists’ Residencies body of work draws on Magic Me’s specialist knowledge of bringing arts into care homes and connecting meaningfully with residents, particularly those living with dementia. Before the current ARCH programme in Essex, the first ARCH programme in 2015-17 paired four leading performance companies Duckie, Lois Weaver, Punchdrunk, and Upswing, with four Anchor care homes in London, bringing circus, altcabaret and immersive theatre to residents. From the very start of Magic Me, research and evaluation reports, now regularly published on our website, have helped us to examine and refine our practice and share our learning. In partnerships with Queen Mary and Goldsmiths, University of London and others, they include: Getting Everybody Included (2001), exploring arts with people with dementia and staff who work with them; Our Generations (2009), comparing the benefits and practicalities of intergenerational projects with a range of people and partners; and Detail and Daring (2012), exploring the beauty and challenges of arts projects with young and older people. Magic Me team involved in ARCH: • Susan Langford - Director / Founder • Kate Hodson - Programme Director • Bethany Haynes - Maternity cover for Kate Hodson, May 2020 - Feb 2021 • Emily Bird - Project Manager • Sally Knocker - Dementia Specialist, Trainer and Consultant • Georgia Akbar, Lily Ash Sakula, Sue Mayo - Magic Me Associate Artists • Danuta Lipinska, Mike Phillips - Ageing & Dementia Care specialists and trainers www.magicme.co.uk @MagicMeArts Photo opposite shows Magic Me’s Magic Moments project
8 Dare To Imagine Excelcare Excelcare was proudly established in 1989 as a family-run business. We are still family-run to this day, and instil our family values onto our colleagues, the people we care for, their relatives and friends. We provide high-quality, person-centred care at 31 individual and unique care homes situated in Cambridge, Essex, London and Milton Keynes. We also operate a home care service in these areas. Excelcare now supports over 2,500 people, delivering care that is as individual as the people we care for with empathy, kindness and compassion. Our team of over 2,000 are each dedicated to making a difference to the quality of everyday life of every individual in our care. For the Artists’ Residencies in Care Homes programme, with support from Magic Me, four Excelcare homes in Essex – Lime Court, Longfield, Sherrell House, and St Fillans – were matched with four arts organisations that break boundaries and use thought provoking activities to engage with people. This four-year partnership was part of a mission to engage residents with different art forms and encourage expression through music, movement, and other creative outlets. As well as making this a memorable experience for each person, Excelcare wanted to ensure the partnership would impact each person positively and encourage them to step out of their comfort zones to try something new. Built around individualised, person-centred care, Excelcare explain their approach with an anecdote that changed their outlook and helped to make them the number one ranked care provider for older people they are today (based on Care Quality Commission (CQC) ratings by Care Markets UK). This story starts with a visit to a care home, where members of the Senior Management Team met an inspirational gentleman named Mr Bailey. In conversation together, Mr Bailey shared his likes, interests and the things that truly put a smile on his face. This conversation inspired positive changes to shift the focus of the Team’s internal audits, from assessing results individually to a more integrated approach, with a new focus on the individual and how each team member working in the home comes together to ensure the life of people living in the home is as fulfilling and enriching as possible. Mr Bailey now represents each and every person living in an Excelcare home, to ensure they are viewed as a unique individual. From this day on, Excelcare has been working collaboratively with family members to ensure each person lives life to the fullest. This partnership with Magic Me is just one example of the company’s commitment to the people who live in their care homes, and ensuring each day is as meaningful and enriching as it can be. Despite being interrupted by the Covid-19 pandemic, the partnership was a huge success and residents involved said how enjoyable the process had been, from the initial workshops all the way through to the creation of the final projects. All four of the homes involved offer residential, residential dementia, respite and end-of-life care.
Full Report 9 Lime Court partnered with Gecko Lime Court is a 44-bedroom home, that also offers day care, near the seafront in Dovercourt, Harwich. • Suzanne Moore - Home Manager • Robin Sayers - Deputy Manager • Sarah Meachen - Lifestyle Coordinator • Gordon Snelling - Healthcare Assistant • Lisa Oxley - Healthcare Assistant Longfield partnered with curious directive Longfield is a 40-bedroom home, arranged in five care suites, all on ground level in Maldon. • Gina Copsey - Home Manager • Paula Clarke - Lifestyle Coordinator • Karen Andrews - Lifestyle Coordinator Photo: Excelcare St Fillans partnered with New Adventures St Fillans is a 72-bedroom home formed of four care suites including frail nursing, dementia nursing, and residential care, over two floors in St John’s, Colchester. • Anumol Thomas - Home Manager • Samantha Farrow - Lifestyle Coordinator • Beverly Killick - Lifestyle Coordinator • Janet Randall - Nurse • Tracy Smith - Team Leader • Sharon Beaumont - Healthcare Assistant • David Smith - Healthcare Assistant • Adam Heard - Healthcare Assistant • Malgorzata Ciesielsta - Healthcare Assistant • Mariola Falkowska - Healthcare Assistant • Felicitas Speed - Healthcare Assistant Sherrell House partnered with Fevered Sleep Sherrell House is a 92-bedroom home arranged in five care suites offering frail residential, nursing and dementia nursing care across three floors, in Chigwell. • Jane Maxwell - Home Manager • Astrid Gabon - Lifestyle Coordinator • Dawn Missenden - Team Leader • Emma Gill - Team Leader • Andreea Coman - Nurse • Tara Thraves - Healthcare Assistant • Veraj Jadea - Healthcare Assistant www.excelcareholdings.com
10 Dare To Imagine Gecko Gecko is an award-winning physical theatre company, led by Artistic Director Amit Lahav. Founded in 2001, the company has created eight critically acclaimed shows, two Associate Shows and two films. Gecko is currently touring their latest stage production Kin, commissioned by the National Theatre, exploring themes of racism, family, migration, and home. Gecko’s mission is to deepen human connection through physical, visual, visceral and ambitious performance and participation. In everything they do, they create opportunities for people to connect to their work and to each other. Gecko’s Creative Engagement programme supports the company’s artistic output, inviting young people, artists and communities to bravely and open heartedly delve into new worlds of connection, imagination and discovery through creativity and play. It provides an opportunity to explore the techniques and processes used to create and perform their work and a space to express, heal, be vulnerable, nurture empathy, uncover truth and foster deep relationships. Working with their highly experienced facilitators, Gecko creates a safe and supported environment that allows participants to be bold and experimental, inviting them to push beyond the boundaries of their previous experience, develop new skills and a new understanding of the world around them. Gecko team involved in ARCH: • Helen Baggett - Associate Director • Paul Smethurst - Creative Engagement Producer Gecko team involved in STILL: Created, Facilitated and Performed by: • Miguel Hernando Torres Umba and Helen Baggett • With Facilitation and Performance by Vanessa Guevara Flores • Directed by Miguel Hernando Torres Umba • Filmed and Edited by Rich Rusk • Set Design, Build and Technical Stage Management by: Jake Channon • Produced by Paul Smethurst With thanks to: • Rosalind Wyn • Kenny Wing Tao Ho • Katie Lusby • Lorna Garside www.geckotheatre.com www.gecko-still.co.uk @geckotheatre
Full Report 11 curious directive curious directive is an internationally touring theatre company, based in Norwich. Since 2008, curious directive has explored theatre through the lens of science. curious directive has achieved 20 awards and are seven times published by Bloomsbury. Led by Jack Lowe, their work has been presented in over 120 venues and reached 175,000+ audience members - and they are regulars at prestigious international festivals. curious directive’s co-working space, Studio Theatre / Digital Lab, and Botanical Garden Bar & Kitchen all serve to develop ground-breaking theatre productions in the heart of Norwich. Recent productions have explored a diverse range of science topics including 37,000-year-old Indonesian cave paintings, coral reef bleaching in Australia, and quantum biology. “The always excellent curious directive.” The Guardian “curious directive are theatre pioneers.” The Telegraph Since 2014, curious directive has specifically sought to collaborate with care homes at different stages of our devising theatre processes; sometimes as sounding boards around the themes from residents, sometimes simply to share some of the science we’re exploring in our productions. With Pioneer, which explored the moments humans first landed on Mars, we worked with care home residents to recollect their memories of the moon landings – the last time humans attempted a feat of putting humans onto other worlds. With Spindrift, which explored sailing as a metaphor for Quantum Biology, we took a group of 15 80+ year old residents sailing on the Norfolk broads in collaboration with the Nancy Oldfield Trust. Our previous work with care homes can be characterised as disruptive, unusual and fearless. curious directive team involved in ARCH: • Natalie Songer - General Manager, curious directive 2018-2022 • Jack Lowe - Artistic Director, curious directive www.curiousdirective.com
12 Dare To Imagine New Adventures Matthew Bourne’s New Adventures is an iconic, ground-breaking British dance-theatre company, famous for telling stories with a unique theatrical twist. Since 1987 New Adventures has changed the popularity of dance in Britain, creating works that have altered the perception of what is possible when it comes to telling stories without words. As well as producing award-winning work which has dazzled and delighted audiences across the globe, New Adventures is passionate about the development of emerging talent and is committed to playing a meaningful role in diversifying the dance landscape for future generations. Our Take Part programme reaches thousands each year through transformative workshops and masterclasses to schools and communities across Britain; and through Green Adventures we are also proud to be regarded as sector leaders in environmental sustainability, driving best practice in green initiatives across the performing arts. The project with Magic Me continues our work with care home residents. In 2015 New Adventures partnered with Dementia Pathfinders to collaborate and create Dance For Life, a programme delivering dance workshops in care homes across the southeast to residents with diverse types and stages of dementia, their carers and family members. The Dance Artists underwent training in dementia awareness for dancers with skilled practitioners from Dementia Pathfinders. New Adventures team involved in ARCH: Creative Workshops led by: • Emily Piercy • Alan Vincent Moving in Time Film: Choreographed and Directed by: • Anjali Mehra Performed and co-created by: • Reece Causton • Natasha Chu • Glenn Graham • Emily Piercy • Alan Vincent • Karishma Young Produced by: • Stephen Daly With thanks to: Alex Ringham, Paul Smethurst, Kerry Biggin, Maddy Brennan, Alex Towers www.new-adventures.net Twitter: @New_Adventures Facebook: MBNewAdventure Instagram: mbnewadventures
Full Report 13 Fevered Sleep Fevered Sleep was established in 1996 by artistic directors Sam Butler and David Harradine. All our work is made in collaboration with people outside the company, and participation is at the heart of everything we do. We see our creative process as a kind of research: a way to investigate and reimagine the complex and challenging world in which we live. We’ve worked with performers, designers, artists, scientists, doctors, teachers, vets, philosophers, social workers, all sorts of other adults and many, many children. We invent new kinds of spaces which invite people to come together and share their experiences of things that matter. Our projects have appeared across the UK and internationally. Sometimes we work in theatres and galleries such as The Young Vic, Sadler’s Wells, Tate Britain and Sydney Opera House. Sometimes we turn up in other places where people work, learn and live, like at Sherrell House Care Home. Our most recent relevant projects include; This Grief Thing, encouraging people to think, talk and learn about grief; The Sky Is Filled With Thunder, an audio artwork making space for children to be truly heard; and Men & Girls Dance, which celebrates the rights of adults and children to be together, to play together and to dance together. The Artists’ Residencies in Care Homes programme connected with our wider body of work in that it brought artistic intervention into people’s everyday lives and was created in direct response to the needs of the people engaging with it in a creative collaboration. This project committed wholeheartedly to our wider purpose to create a more caring, curious and compassionate world, one unlikely art project at a time. Fevered Sleep team involved in Artists’ Residencies • Akshay Sharma and Petra Soor - Associate Artists • Annabelle Sami - Assistant Producer • Camilla Greenwell and Roswitha Chesher - Photographers • Imogen Alvarez and Olive Hardy - Dancers • Kip Johnson - Associate Artist (2019 - 2020) • Louisa Borg-Costanzi Potts - Programme Director • Pascal Colman - Sound Designer • Sam Butler & David Harradine - Co-artistic Directors • Sam Evans - Production Manager Explore Our Work www.feveredsleep.co.uk Instagram Twitter Facebook
14 Dare To Imagine Section 3 The Programme Photo: Camilla Greenwell
Full Report 15 Background and context This programme built on Magic Me’s Artists’ Residencies in Care Homes 2015-2017, a series of partnerships with four care homes run by Anchor across London, supported by Paul Hamlyn Foundation. Our arts partners, Duckie, Lois Weaver, Punchdrunk, and Upswing, brought cabaret, visual arts, performance, storytelling, immersive theatre and circus to their partner homes. Evaluation of the project noted very positive responses from care home communities and artists alike. There was much learning about how to bring high quality arts to older people living in residential settings, however many questions remained unexplored. Magic Me saw great potential in a second round of residencies, over a longer period of time. The launch of the ARCH Report in 2017 generated much interest from care providers, keen to partner with Magic Me. After supportive conversations with Paul Hamlyn Foundation, we began to devise a new plan and reached out to potential care and arts partners. In line with Magic Me’s strategic plan to expand our activities eastward, offering arts opportunities in underserved communities in Essex, our goal was to find a care partner in a very different context to the inner-city London homes. Keen to capture and share learning we also approached Anglia Ruskin University, with a campus in Chelmsford, Essex, to be our research partner. Both Magic Me and ARU had been part of Creative Journeys in 2017. Setting up the partnerships Finding partners and rationale for choosing them Kate Hodson, Programme Director, reached out to a short list of arts companies whose work excited us and seemed to have, based on our experience from the first ARCH series, a relevant approach for care home audiences. We sought partners with a mix of arts ambition and truly person-centred practice, committed to long term work in care homes – not an easy brief. Through visits, meetings and viewing work we selected four arts partners, all then Arts Council England National Portfolio Organisations (NPOs), two of whom were based in the east of England. They are curious directive in Norwich, Gecko in Ipswich, New Adventures in Farnham, and Fevered Sleep in London. Susan Langford, Director, focused on care partners. Desk research and conversations with Essex County Council colleagues and other local partners generated a shortlist of care providers with whom we had initial discussions. At the same time, by happy coincidence, Magic Me was contacted by Simone Bullen, Executive Head of Lifestyle & Innovation at Excelcare, who, knowing of Magic Me’s work with Westport Care Home in Tower Hamlets, was keen to discuss potential future partnerships. There are few care home providers operating at scale in Essex. Of Excelcare’s 31 homes, 11 are in the county across a range of locations – coastal, small town, small city, edge of London – giving the scope and variety we wanted for ARCH. We decided to partner with Excelcare and with input from all partners, we made a funding bid to Paul Hamlyn Foundation. A grant to fund the ARCH programme over four years was confirmed in June 2019.
16 Dare To Imagine Matching homes and building support Simone Bullen worked with Helen Bennett, Essex Operations Director, to shortlist homes in Essex with capacity to join the project. Susan and Kate visited them all with Simone, meeting the Care Home Managers, staff and residents, aiming to understand each home’s particular situation and personality. The four of us then met and after much discussion partnered the four arts partners with four care homes, based on what they had all told us about their work and ambitions for ARCH. Together with Simone’s ongoing project leadership, Excelcare assigned a member of the Head Office Lifestyle & Innovation (L&I) team to each residency: Simona Petrehus, Alvin Singelee and Di Veness. Their role was to facilitate communications between the partners and across Excelcare and take on some key tasks and additional work which would inevitably be generated, ensuring homes could in Simone’s words “fully embrace this opportunity”. Gloria Read, also joined the project from Excelcare as a Dementia Specialist to offer training and support, as always, for care home teams, and also for the artists. Cohort Day 1: Getting to know one another An introductory Cohort Day in east London in September 2019 brought together 19 staff and freelancers from the four arts partners, Magic Me, Excelcare and ARU, who all shared their practice and interest in the project. Sally Knocker, Dementia Specialist and Trainer, co-led the day, offering an introduction to working creatively within care homes and ARU led an exploration of our aims, hopes and fears for our work together. Sally continued to provide ongoing support throughout the four years. Cohort Day 2: Introductory sessions at care homes Through Autumn 2019 each arts organisation spent a day visiting their partner home, accompanied by ARU, Magic Me and Excelcare L&I staff. Each day included: an introduction to the home from the Manager, Lifestyle Coordinator and other key staff; a tour to meet residents and staff and sometimes to join in that day’s activities; and an introduction to the arts partner’s practice, through talks, films and experiential activities to take part in. ARU introduced their role and approach. There was plenty of time for Q&A and Magic Me facilitated discussions to start to agree joint expectations for each residency and how to work together. Homes provided lunch for everyone and we felt very welcome. Getting started Contracts and agreements It was important for each pair to negotiate and have a clear agreement of the roles and responsibilities of each partner which was signed by the Care Home Manager, the lead from the arts organisation, and Magic Me. It covered work within the homes and beyond including: • roles of care home staff in supporting residents to participate • roles of artists during their residency • schedules, timings, rooms, storage of materials, refreshments • how best and with whom to communicate, and what information to share • safeguarding, confidentiality and consent; activity risk assessments • keeping diaries, records or registers to document what happens
Full Report 17 • photo consent, press and communications, partner and funder credits • crediting artists, intellectual property and rights of artworks made The project would run for four years and regular reviews were planned. Everyone who participated in the ARU research also signed the research consent forms. Research & Development phase From November 2019 to March 2020 arts organisations spent time in their partner home, getting to know people, learning more about how things worked, and experimenting with creative activities and ideas. Their goal was to shape an appropriate, longer residency to take place in phase 2. Each arts partner describes their work and outcomes in section 4. Cohort Day 3: Reflections on R&D The regular cohort days were intended to share experiences and learning and provide peer and specialist support. The third took place on 2 April 2020 to review this first R&D phase and share the research findings to inform the longer residencies. However, by this time the country had gone into lockdown due to the Covid-19 pandemic and all ARCH meetings moved online. Photo: Rich Rusk
18 Dare To Imagine Covid-19 disruption Impact of Covid-19 in care homes The Covid-19 pandemic had substantial impacts on everyone involved in the ARCH programme but was particularly devastating within care homes. In England and Wales, 45,632 care home resident deaths were registered as involving Covid-19 between the week ending 20 March 2020 and the week ending 21 January 2022 (ONS, 2021). These figures are likely to be an underestimate as not everyone was tested, and do not include the many care home staff who also lost their lives. They reflect the “slow, late and inadequate response to the risk and reality of Covid-19 in care homes” (Daly, 2020, p.985). At the time of writing in June 2023, the UK Covid-19 Inquiry has just got underway, set up to examine and learn from the response and impact of the pandemic. The restrictions on everyday life, disruption to community activity and businesses, and the emotional, physical, and financial costs of the virus and lockdowns are still playing out. However, existing research paints a picture of these turbulent times to provide important context for the artists’ residencies. Care homes faced many challenges, including severe staff shortages, increased workloads, and substantial disruption to daily working practices (Nyashanua, Pfendeb and Ekpenyong, 2020; Hanna et al., 2021). Care home staff experienced significantly increased responsibilities for endof-life care and exposure to a greater number of deaths, causing emotional trauma with little additional emotional support or time to grieve (Spacey et al., 2023). As a result, there were high levels of stress, anxiety, depression, and posttraumatic stress disorder amongst care home staff (Greene et al., 2021; Beattie et al., 2023). In addition to the impact on care home staff, the pandemic and associated restrictions also shaped residents’ experiences of loneliness. Pre-covid there were already high levels of loneliness amongst older people in care homes with the need for meaningful social engagement recognised as important to improve quality of life (Gardiner et al., 2020). The disruption and effect of the restrictions highlight the need for initiatives and activities that could restore meaning by reconnecting or establishing new connections with people and entities beyond the home (Ho et al., 2022). In this context, the significance and focus of the ARCH programme shifted, which is reflected in the subsequent phases of the artists’ residencies. Spring/Summer 2020 onwards Care home staff and those at Excelcare head office were totally focused on dealing with the health emergency, working to maintain the wellbeing of their residents and staff in an unprecedented and rapidly changing situation. Arts partners paused all planned work, cancelled tours and renegotiated their funding agreements, whilst working out how to support their regular participants, staff, and freelance artists at a distance. Some partner staff were furloughed for periods. Our best guess for when the main residencies could take place was Autumn 2020, then April 2021. Strict national guidelines on visiting care homes, meant our contact was via phone or Zoom, though some garden visits and work outside became possible in 2021. Care homes only opened fully to visitors in April 2022, though Covid-19 outbreaks could still mean a temporary closure to visits. Arts partners negotiated with their partner homes around what support or activities they might offer from a distance, depending on both the home and the partner’s capacity or situation. Plans had always to be flexible, open to change or cancellation. Excelcare’s purchase of iPads,
Full Report 19 mobile phones, and big screens supported remote working, which all arts partners – along with the whole country – were now developing. The Excelcare L&I team roles changed, with Simona Petrehus and Helen Bennett remaining part of the project. Support for partners From early 2021 Magic Me brokered online meetings for homes and arts partners to reconnect. The story for each home was very different, but staff, residents and families had experienced huge trauma and exhaustion. In response Magic Me arranged a session for artists and arts partner staff with Danuta Lipinska to reflect on their own covid stories, and how they might respond to the situation in their care home. At monthly Zoom meetings arts partners could share experiences, questions and learning as they experimented with remote and then in-person work. Sally Knocker and Dementia Specialist Mike Philips provided bespoke support to partners, particularly as new artists and staff joined the project from 2021 onwards. Magic Me Associate Artists Georgia Akbar and Lily Ash Sakula shared their recent learning from other remote care home projects and Sue Mayo facilitated a session on ethical use of participants’ stories in making creative artworks. Changing plans The huge impact of the pandemic on the care home communities and the loss of momentum between the R&D phase and main residencies meant we had to rethink our whole plan. With generous support from Paul Hamlyn Foundation, who provided an additional emergency grant, we were able to add a fifth project year and re-run the R&D phase, including additional time for the ARU research to capture what was happening. However, with restrictions ongoing, the R&D, residency and legacy phases became wrapped up together through 2022 and 2023. During 2020 and 2021 the Cultural Recovery Fund, run by Arts Council England with the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, provided extensive financial support to the arts and culture sector, keeping many organisations afloat. Magic Me benefitted from two grants, enabling us to not just survive, but to adapt and reinvent our work with communities, during these unique times. Legacy phase The main residencies were mostly completed by March 2023, but the legacy phase is ongoing. This includes the creation of a written resource booklet of creative ideas and approaches from the residencies, to be tried and tested by a cohort of six Lifestyle Coordinators from other Excelcare homes, for publication in early 2024. This will be shared initially across Excelcare and then publicly online. In a series of day-long training sessions in Spring 2024, commissioned by Essex County Council, ARCH artists will introduce these and other successful creative approaches to 120 activities coordinators across the county.
20 Dare To Imagine Section 4: The Residencies Photo: Malachy Luckie
Full Report 21 Lime Court and Gecko Our journey In 2019 Magic Me approached Gecko with the provocation of a long project, working in partnership with Lime Court in Dovercourt, Essex. Our process is regularly studied by students across the globe and as such we regularly deliver in schools. However, working in this way with this demographic was not something we had vast experience in, and we were excited by the opportunity. We were particularly inspired by the prospect of taking our well-established methodology into a care home setting, with time and resource to be able to build authentic relationships and to co-create the artists’ residencies project and journey. The project began in the Autumn, with a series of ‘meet and greet’ sessions for families, friends and loved ones to talk about our work and to help them understand the project aims. To see our work in action, we screened our digital production The Time of Your Life. We led training in the ‘Gecko way’ for staff, then, over the course of two weeks, we delivered creative workshops, to begin building relationships and test working with ideas of movement, touch and stimulation. In March 2020 the Covid-19 pandemic halted our engagement with Lime Court, as they coped with this national crisis. Further into the lockdown, staff reached out in need of some fun, energy, and happiness, and in April 2021 we developed a regular interactive session exploring music and movement over Zoom, which was beamed into their lounge area. We also built in one-to-one Zoom conversations to get to know the residents’ lives, passions and experiences more personally. In September 2021 we began our second R&D phase where, due to continuing restrictions, we built an outdoor stage area in the garden, adorned with wonderful props and costumes. Over the course of two weeks, we captured this playful exploration on film, galvanizing our decision to create an artistically elevated piece of film theatre for the residency phase: ‘STILL’. STILL STILL was created in May 2022. The film was artistically led by Associate Director Helen Baggett and Devising Performer Miguel Torres Umba, who devised a storyboard to take viewers on an emotional journey through different worlds inspired by the residents. Their concept was brought to life with Technical Stage Manager Jake Channon designing and building our very own film studio
22 Dare To Imagine within one of the unused rooms at Lime Court. This room was transformed into different scenes and environments for the residents to experience, explore, and respond to through movement and music, with facilitation and performance from Devising Performer Vanessa Guevara Flores. Photo: Rich Rusk Our amazing cast of residents and staff were treated to a sneak peek of the film at a red-carpet event within the home before it was premiered as part of the local Harwich Festival. STILL was publicly launched on 24 September 2022, the National Day of Arts in Care Homes, and has since been viewed in over 56 countries. To celebrate the launch, we held some free screenings of the film at Ipswich Central Library. It was also screened at HOME in Manchester, as well as at the Ipswich Film Society later in the year. STILL was longlisted for Arts Council England’s Digital Culture Awards. “Just wanted to let you know that this is one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen. I’ve still got tears rolling down my cheeks as I’m writing this email. It was an incredibly emotional piece to watch.” Victor Craven Freelance Director & Animator “You have taken my breath away with this latest project. I have always been in awe of you as a Company but ‘STILL’ is for me quite possibly your most moving and thoughtprovoking piece yet.” Judy Legacy Six months later, we returned to Lime Court and consulted with the Care Home Manager and Lifestyle Coordinator to delve into the final legacy phase. We posed the question ‘What can Gecko leave behind that will be useful, and meet the needs of the staff and residents?’ The resounding response from Lime Court was they wanted Gecko back in the home, ideally returning and delivering the whole project again. Due to our limited resource and capacity yet aspiring to bring the Gecko energy and creativity back to Lime Court on a regular basis, we developed a series of digital workshops. These interactive films have a blended delivery method. They are bookended with Associate Director Helen delivering a warm-up and cool down, and see her pass the ‘baton’ to the inperson staff member to deliver the creative exploration section of the session, using props and objects supplied by Gecko. The content was filmed on location, inviting the residents to transport their imaginations into a blustery field, woodland, and ‘sunny’ beach. We tested out the films at Lime Court in April 2023 and they were incredibly well received. The staff plan to deliver one of the three workshop packages weekly, and experiment with using the films in one-to-one settings within the residents’ rooms.
Full Report 23 Eliciting In any Gecko creative process there is always a period of eliciting, of us evoking or drawing out information or a reaction in people. This long process, introduced once trust and connection has been established, involves our facilitators opening all their senses to collect snippets and wisps of experiences, feelings and knowledge used to inspire and subsequently create a piece of physical theatre. This approach is embedded with curiosity and openness; the intent is not to arrive and teach or lead, but to learn, gather and then represent and celebrate the individuals who are involved in the process and journey. We elicit not just verbal stories, but also movement qualities, feelings, and responses to stimuli. We may collect these things in note form or through film, and from this wide array of information begin to steer, shape, shift, and focus ideas and themes into a clearer direction and form. This leads to a process of storyboarding a structure that is informed and inspired by this range of offerings. Layers are built, developed, and discarded, and we stay open and flexible to editing and pivoting ideas as we progress. Elicitation leads to many things – choreographic ideas, sense of place, space and location, musical accompaniment, and sense of dynamic or quality. An example from STILL Upon asking, ‘Where do you find joy?’ one of the residents quietly responded, ‘Sailing’ and continued to share memories of sailing trips with her husband and her love of bracing, cold, windy weather. From this small but profound nugget of remembering we created ‘Watery World’, a stark, beautiful environment with rippling aqua tones that the residents entered into and explored, imbued with breath, ebb and flow. Photo: Rich Rusk Whilst verbal stories were useful and informative, other elicitations and discoveries served in the creation of our film. For example, different styles of music evoked different reactions and revelations. When playing rhythmical jazz music, our Associate Director observed one resident’s movement mimicking drumming and striking an imaginary hi-hat. This led to a conversation where we discovered a personal story around jazz in 1961, which was poetically amplified into our section of the film called ‘Jazz World’. The residents’ recollections of the sounds, smells and feelings in this setting informed what this world looked like and fed into the design of this space. Keeping aware and vigilant of residents’ reactions and moods is essential; so much can be gleaned and discovered from the slightest movement or expressive change. These observations can then prompt discussion and discovery, in effect the reversal of the original eliciting process where now, the creative session leads to an eliciting conversation. Eliciting connects us, inspires us, and provides a collaborative creative process placing the participant at the heart of the work, honouring and representing their lived experience. Non-verbal The non-verbal element of our work and methodology is a key factor in the success of this project and the positive impact for the residents. Our work, therefore, does not rely upon
24 Dare To Imagine a knowledge of English or other languages. Where English is not a participant’s first language, we may use their mother-tongue. Voice is not the only tool we have to communicate. There is so much we can say and express through a look, an outstretched hand, a squeeze. The use of breath, eye contact and touch is a vital part of the process and creates a shared human language. This ensures engagement is accessible on multiple levels – sonically, visually, emotionally – inviting residents to participate in their own way, allowing, accepting and celebrating their own version of engagement and understanding of the creative journey. Photo: Rich Rusk Many of the residents live with dementia, and are at different stages on this journey, and thus verbal conversation and communication can have varying results. Our embodied approach allows us to communicate with the residents in a different way, which has delighted and surprised the staff at Lime Court. “It empowers the staff because I think they see reactions from very simple movements, music, reactions that…you’re not aware that could happen. Through movement and time, you know putting that combination together, the reaction that you get is amazing.” Suzanne Moore, Care Home Manager, Lime Court. Human connection At the centre of our methodology and approach is connection with people. The success of the residency hinged on the authentic relationships we built with staff and residents. This is something that we built over time and could not be forced or rushed. It was essential to take the time to get to know the individuals and understand how the home worked. As a united front, we were able to take risks, be bold and ambitious, meet each other’s needs, and adapt to any challenges. The personal connections we forged allowed us to encourage and support profound moments of lucidity, engagement, and expression. Delivery and engagement shifted from a didactic method of demonstrate and copy, to an exchange and a conversation. The bonds we created opened up safe spaces for residents, staff and practitioners alike to nurture a sense of belonging, acceptance and togetherness. Together, we returned to a pure state of being human, untouched, and uncontaminated by societal pressures, conventions, and injustices. We were not afraid to explore a full range of emotions that are part of being human, regardless of age. Our methodology, combined with the connection and relationships we nurtured, allows for the stimulation and expression of many feelings, which are safely held and navigated, with movement being a tool to transition from one emotional state into another. That is what the Gecko methodology is all about, transcending into a state of deep human connection. It was important for us to bring the full Gecko experience and methodology to the home, not diluting or compromising on our commitment to quality and ambition for profound expressive experiences. This was only made possible due to the relationship we created with the incredible Lime Court staff. We capitalised on the mutual playfulness we discovered and brought them on board to trust our bold vision, encourage our risk taking, and support our process.
Full Report 25 Longfield and curious directive Photo: Jack Lowe
26 Dare To Imagine Ideas and introductions 2019-2020 The R&D phase of the ARCH prgramme consisted of a series of experimental digital storytelling interactions with residents. Jack and Natalie spent whole days at Longfield meeting residents and staff on all the units, offering a variety of activities to engage with them and start a dialogue. Residents and some staff and visitors tried and enjoyed using Virtual Reality Headsets as a means of digital travel. We also offered residents the chance to wear cutting edge ‘wearable’ Augmented Reality technology as a means of experiencing the world beyond Longfield. Initially we proposed offering something digital, a way of connecting residents with their own sense of self, as well as with family members – those who are able to visit often and those who are not. However, we encountered early on how difficult it can be to introduce new technology into a care home setting over a sustained period of time. We needed to be there to facilitate its use. Recognising that residents were at Longfield night and day, early ideas and themes we considered for the residency included a ‘Sleep Diary’ project. However, for practical reasons the home could not facilitate artists staying overnight and we moved on. We worked closely with Paula, Lifestyle Coordinator, to understand how the existing calendar year looked for the residents, including key activity days, the structure of these events and any key barriers to attendance for some residents. Photo: curious directive In this way we researched different lifestyles in the home, and mapped out aspects of the home which, as newcomers, it felt easier to navigate than others. Our approach then became about focusing on our role in the home, re-thinking how we could possibly help, as artists, in this space. We were interested in how our work at Longfield might support increasing creativity throughout Excelcare. Excelcare had an established model of having staff members identified as ‘Champions’ for different aspects of care. A Champion in one home, with particular experience or expertise, would share learning and ideas with colleagues at other homes. We therefore considered an idea called ‘Creative Champions’ – namely a member of the team who could champion alternative creative, life affirming experiences across the homes. The two-hour journey from Norwich to Maldon and back again gave both Natalie and Jack plenty of time to critically mull over the days of development in Longfield. We were about to offer to Excelcare the idea of creating a bespoke piece of software development for residents to connect with their family members, when the pandemic struck.
Full Report 27 Photo: Jack Lowe During Covid-19 Our instincts around the need for digital infrastructure in care homes became starkly clear as homes rushed to install communication speakers through windows, acclimatise residents to the use of Zoom, and upskill care workers in time-consuming software and hardware operation. Excelcare bought additional iPads and mobile phones for all its homes during the first months of lockdown to ensure staff could support and enhance direct communications between residents and their friends and families. Had the pandemic struck just three months later, curious directive would have been further on in its experimentation with digital communication, and in a position to offer more significant infrastructure and support with creating a more connected experience for residents. In spite of the significant national restrictions placed on visiting care homes, and on bringing in equipment or materials, we were determined to use our skills to try to bring something to the residents of Longfield. Therefore, in collaboration with Paula, we worked to create a ‘Sensory Room’ for residents still restricted to their rooms on a day-to-day basis to support infection control. We worked to install (via a sanitised delivery package and with the use of radio communication through windows) a comforting soundscape made up of familiar sounds to one individual resident, an aromatherapy corner and a digitally mapped videoscape loop – projecting onto the ceiling where a resident was lying in their bed, facing up. The idea was to create this installation for the resident, who at this stage was far along their dementia journey, offering variety and new experiences to break up the day. Paula reported that our chosen resident displayed a positive change in mood and was transfixed by the images on the ceiling. Truly, these small interventions felt like a significant step forward in our approach to using digital technology post-pandemic. Our belief in the power of the wider use of technology to reduce isolation and loneliness in care homes continues to this day. Re-engagement 2021-2022 With visiting allowed once more, Jack spent an entire week in residency at Longfield, getting to know the residents again. During this time, he participated in many aspects of the home, exploring the activities, lifestyle and what it is that residents were missing after lockdown. Overwhelmingly, it became clear that residents missed interacting with their families. Geography seemed to be a major factor. Jack undertook a series of conversations with Deloitte Digital and other world-leading communications consultants to see if there was something simple off-the-shelf which could be installed, at first in three rooms and then potentially across the entire home. Jack began working with the Scandinavian company called KOMP, who established the world’s first one-way, single button communication device.