ARU Magic Me - ARCH Project - Dare To Imagine

54 Dare To Imagine interest in arts and creativity, particularly given the prerogative from Care Home Managers around care home staff learning new skills and supporting legacy. This could have been achieved through the Champions, but unfortunately with staff changes across all partners and increased pressure on workloads due to the pandemic, the role was not utilised in a defined way during the residencies. Care home staff engagement Artists described the importance of seeing both residents and care home staff as creatives. This was to some extent provocative as it contrasted with their caring role that was sometimes perceived as “clinical” or “task focused” while care home staff were sometimes unsure whether they were allowed to be engaging with arts activities whilst at work. The ARCH programme gave them permission to be creative and have fun – “permission to imagine” – and an invitation to “think beyond what they already know”. …we’re not a hospital, we’re a care home, and it’s where people are cared for, in a home environment. And I think [ARCH] has helped that… It’s okay to dance around and have fun… you’re not here just to do clinical work, this is a home. Care home post-residency Additionally, care home staff sometimes lacked confidence around their own capabilities as creatives and were initially sceptical about whether residents would engage or benefit from the creative practice of the arts organisations. The introduction visits and staff taster sessions were essential in overcoming this uncertainty, with reports of care home staff then becoming fully engaged during the R&D phase and utilising their experience and knowledge of the residents to support their participation. All staff really engaged with the creative arts sessions and the residents in a remarkable way. They were very willing to join in with the activities and had unique ways to engage the residents. Artists’ reflections R&D Across arts organisations and care homes, the importance of care home staff engagement in and commitment to the ARCH programme was emphasised. Facilitators for this included artists’ presence and spending time in the home as well as Lifestyle Coordinators and Care Home Managers advocating for their involvement in the residencies. …you’ve got to put that work in, because you get so much more out of it. You’ve got to start off with having the grounding that, if you’re going to take on this project, you need to be committed to it. And… to give time to it… because you get so much more out of it when you do. Care home post-residency However, there were significant challenges in terms of care home staff shortages, high staff turnover, and the pressures on their time. They worked long busy shifts and the time that the artists were there was sometimes the only opportunity for them to have a break. They were also often pulled away from arts activities into caring duties; and on some occasions artists found themselves supporting staff who were overwhelmed by the everyday demands within the care home. These challenges to engagement were frustrating for both care home staff as well as the artists, who at times felt they were delivering the programme on their own – but stressed that this was completely understandable.