ARU Magic Me - ARCH Project - Dare To Imagine

Full Report 57 Inclusive creative practice The ARCH programme promoted inclusive creative practice with the intention of reaching out to all residents, whilst being respectful of those not wanting to participate. Care home staff in particular felt strongly that all residents should have the opportunity to take part, including those with cognitive or physical impairments and those who did not usually engage with care home activities. What I’m really hoping [the artists will] be able to do is engage some of our residents that aren’t necessarily…the ones who will come to every activity. We have other people around that are harder to engage… Care home staff member R&D focus group The artists echoed this recognising the benefits that arts could bring and the opportunity to expand their creative practice. However, they were apprehensive about working with residents with dementia. This was somewhat relieved by the care home introduction days where care home staff introduced them to residents and shared examples of how they could interact and respond to challenging behaviours. This was also addressed in training sessions organised by Magic Me. But working with people with dementia really is your behaviour, plus things like you do not argue. If they say they are in a zoo right now, you go along with the story. You don’t approach from the back, you always approach from the front… if you could offer touch or whatever, you always ask for it. Especially these are things that we were working with, so what colours to use, what not to use, what can trigger… Arts organisation post-residency Additional challenges included knowing what is feasible for residents, balancing active and passive engagement, engaging residents with different abilities within the same session, the number of residents they could meaningfully engage with, and some care home staff not initially recognising the agency of residents. During the residencies, artists and care home staff found it was possible to include people with physical and cognitive limitations and to look at what they can do rather than what they can’t do. Examples included residents and relatives making tactile blankets together, and the creation of soundscape books with images of the artists that could be taken into residents’ rooms. Throughout the ARCH programme there were many examples of inclusive creative practice that involved a range of residents – including those with dementia, those who were immobile, and those who do not usually engage – which was particularly appreciated and praised by the care home management and Excelcare. Photo: Stephen Daly Artists’ learning and development The learning and development of artists and arts organisations in understanding and working in the care home context was a key aspiration of the ARCH programme and supported by Magic Me through specific training and monthly meetings for arts organisations. This was hugely valued by