ARU Magic Me - ARCH Project - Dare To Imagine

68 Dare To Imagine Key learning and recommendations The findings emphasised the power of high quality participatory arts practice to make meaningful impacts for care home staff and residents. The findings provide some excellent examples of best practice for artists working in care homes, as well as illuminating some challenges in bringing together arts organisations and care homes to deliver high quality arts programmes. We make the following recommendations for best practice: 1. There are vital leadership and project management roles that need to be fulfilled in order for artists’ residencies in care homes to be successful. Leadership is needed to oversee the residencies, mediate between artists and care homes, keep momentum going, ensure people’s needs are being met, and develop and enact a clear communication strategy from the start that ensures that: (i) All partners are aware of the purpose of the programme as a whole and its phases. (ii) The collaborative process is responsive to the needs and priorities of the care homes and co-created between artists/care home staff and residents. (iii) The roles of all involved: artists as well as care home staff including the Lifestyle Coordinator, and wider care home staff, are clearly defined. (iv) The collaborative process that artists intend to use is as clearly defined as is feasible for care home staff and residents. (v) The ‘endings’ of sessions and different phases of the project are considered from the start. (vi) Any protocols required such as safeguarding are agreed and discussed with artists before going into the homes. (vii) Ways to keep in touch between phases and sessions are agreed and shared between the arts organisations and care homes (including back up/handover plans in the event of staffing changes) In this case, the programme had the advantage of an expert host organisation – Magic Me – who took on these leadership and project management roles. However, if a host organisation is not available then consideration from the outset of who will take on these roles is needed. 2. Early acknowledgement and negotiation of the similarities and differences between the arts and care sectors in their expectations and approaches to working, is important in building shared understandings and mitigating potential challenges in working together. Facilitated through: • careful ‘matching’ of care home and arts organisation (considering energies, personalities, ethos/values, location, size and resources of arts organisations and care homes) • ensuring prior awareness of arts organisations’ practice amongst care home management • clear and open communication early on about the values and vision of the programme, including to wider care home staff (see point 1) • Introduction days where artists can meet staff and residents and tour the home, care home staff can experience a ‘taster’ of the creative activities, providing opportunities for mutual experiential learning. 3. The support and commitment from senior management – Excelcare head office and Care Home Managers - is key for successful