ARU Magic Me - ARCH Project - Dare To Imagine

58 Dare To Imagine all artists, whether they had previous experience in care homes or not, particularly the training on trauma that was delivered to support artists in dealing with conversations about what the care homes had been through during the pandemic. [Magic Me have] gone above and beyond what an almost commissioning organisation necessarily needs to do. They’ve really listened to what us as organisations have needed and shifted the way they work with us to enable us to connect more or to have these regular meetings or to have training… to help us build more understanding or expertise around certain areas. Arts organisation post-residency While the training was appreciated, some expressed the need for more training, for example specialist training on different needs of residents and particularly those with very “restrictive medical needs” and “limited movement”. It was also suggested that it would have been useful to have all the training sessions at the start, before the projects began, rather than running throughout. However, Magic Me planned the training to be spaced out based on learning from previous residencies. This learning indicated that some training worked best if provided after artists had experienced being in the homes. This approach also allowed for training to be responsive to arising needs and ensured new staff joining part-way through the programme could still access training. Along with the training, artists learnt from their experience delivering the residencies and talked particularly about their new understandings around how to engage with residents with dementia or other cognitive or physical impairments. Additionally, artists talked about their personal and professional development in terms of confidence, both in relation to a “sense of ease” that came with understanding the care home context and gaining new skills, developing their practice, and growing their sense of agency in delivering the residency. It was also an opportunity for freelancers to develop a greater connection with the arts organisation. For some of the arts organisations, this was the first time they were applying their approach within the care home context, which was an exciting prospect and a learning opportunity. There was significant learning and development for artists and arts organisations in adapting to the pandemic, relating to practicalities, integrity, and dealing with emotional impacts. …it had come across quite strongly…how awful it had been for the staff. [Artists] were asking…“I want to understand that a little bit more or know what I can do to support that…” So, I… found a consultant and counsellor, who… developed a half-day training, which was about grief and trauma in care homes through the pandemic… Making the crucial link of… everybody has just been through a traumatic experience …you yourself as an artist will have a response to what has happened and the trauma, as will the residents and the staff that you are working with. So, it was giving the artists a vocabulary to talk about that and to think about how they might need to shift both their communication with the homes, but also the practice and the way that they work with the residents and the staff… Magic Me post-residency Furthermore, on the evaluation day arts organisations reflected more broadly about their learning, with one artist stating: “it’s been really rather an insight”. They also considered how they could draw on ARCH to continue working within care homes.