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Writing can seriously improve your well-being

A project to place artists in care homes is helping older people free their creative spirits.
resident-with-haiku

A project to place artists in care homes is helping older people free their creative spirits.

A resident of a care home involved in the cARTrefu project with a book of haiku

Laughter rings out in the dining room of a care home where residents are trying on hats a golden turban, a trilby, a straw boater, a Russian fur cap and a fez in a scriptwriting workshop.

After choosing their hats they each invent a character who might wear it, including his or her name, occupation, country of origin, preferred music and favourite food.

In another dining room in a different care home a bullet in a freezer bag is placed on a table and labelled exhibit A. Next to it is placed a purple feather and a black rubber glove.

Here, writer in residence Jodie Kay Ashdown is

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A project to place artists in care homes is helping older people free their creative spirits.

resident-with-haiku-book
A resident of a care home involved in the cARTrefu project with a book of haiku

Laughter rings out in the dining room of a care home where residents are trying on hats – a golden turban, a trilby, a straw boater, a Russian fur cap and a fez – in a scriptwriting workshop.

After choosing their hats they each invent a character who might wear it, including his or her name, occupation, country of origin, preferred music and favourite food.

In another dining room in a different care home a bullet in a freezer bag is placed on a table and labelled ‘exhibit A’. Next to it is placed a purple feather and a black rubber glove.

Here, writer in residence Jodie Kay Ashdown is helping a group of residents improvise a murder mystery play. In eight weeks they will finish the play and see it performed.

Jodie, an award-winning script writer, also creates short films with care home residents. One video, Time and Tide, made with residents of Newton House Care Home, Porthcawl, South Wales, is available online.

Workshops

These free workshops are part of a project called cARTrefu, which is administered by Age Cymru and funded by The Baring Foundation and Arts Council Wales. The aim of cARTrefu is to provide high quality arts experiences for older people in residential care by placing artists in care homes across Wales.

Jodie, along with acclaimed poet Rhian Edwards, Young People’s Laureate Wales Sophie McKeand and I, have been working on the project for the past two years.

The workshops suit residents with early-to-middle-stage dementia, but many of those with late-stage dementia love being present too.

I have witnessed people who were thought to be post-verbal speak for the first time in years while attending the workshops. Participants usually become calmer, happier and more outgoing. They often form new friendships, become deeply absorbed in activities and have great fun.

Older people who live with dementia and frailty are constantly reminded of what they cannot do. But, as cARTrefu shows, if we focus on what they may be able to do if they are given the opportunities, we can significantly improve their quality of life.


About the author

Deborah_Llewelyn

Deborah Llewelyn is a creative writing practitioner for cARTrefu

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