INSTITUTIONAL REPOSITORY

CENTRAL RESEARCH AND CREATIVITY ONLINE

Care home residents as artists: digital connections in the age of disconnect.

Abraham, Nicola and Hudspith, Rachel (2021) Care home residents as artists: digital connections in the age of disconnect. In: International Psychogeriatric Association (IPA) Congress 2021, 18/11/2021, Online. (Unpublished)

Abstract

Throughout the current global pandemic, many people have had to adapt to new ways of interacting through virtual platforms. For those with access to new technologies this transition has been straightforward, but not easy and for those without it, life has become socially isolating, frightening, and lonely. The impact of COVID-19 on the mental health of older adults is a serious concern, particularly for those living in care homes who have been forgotten or neglected by exclusionary government policy. Amnesty International’s 2020 report ‘As if Expendable: The UK Government’s Failure to Protect Older People in Care Homes During the COVID-19 Pandemic’ provides analysis of the neglect to care for and sufficiently support older adults living with dementia in supported living. The results of this inaction to provide care has led to many avoidable deaths and caused fear and heartache for those who have lost family, friends and colleagues. It is at this moment, during the third UK lockdown that we would like to share a narrative of hope about the actions that we have taken within care home contexts to provide relief, reconnect residents safely with their neighbours, and found creative ways to inclusively provide care, support and celebrations of the identities of people in these contexts who have become statistics in news reports.
Between January and March 2021, undergraduate and postgraduate Applied Theatre students from The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama in partnership with Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust collaborated with residents from One Housing Association to create and develop bespoke films, poems, songs and virtual reality 360 videos from the safety of their homes to bring to life their stories, hopes and inner artists. In this presentation, we will explore the impact of these projects on the participants’ wellbeing and examine the importance of providing older adults opportunities to be creative. We will additionally offer insights into the relationships that were made and developed during the projects, including family connections, intergenerational connections and playful relationships that emerged between the residents themselves and their Carers.

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