The British Museum"s Age Friendly Museums Day was designed specifically to enable care home staff to bring residents for a day out. It was hoped that the event would encourage staff to organise further visits and make the most of museums as a resource.
The event welcomed those who were visiting for the first time as well as those already familiar with the Museum, with their carers and relatives. Many had last visited the Museum as children, some over 50 years ago.
This was the first time care homes have been invited to the Museum on this scale. We contacted the Managers or Activity Co-ordinators " an afternoon telephoning each home and introducing ourselves. They were all very enthusiastic about getting involved. Some needed more notice or had transport issues.
The day was very well attended, with a total of 54 participants (residents and support staff ) from eight different care homes arrived mainly by minibus or taxi. Two arrived by train from Tunbridge Wells. Disabled parking was arranged. Wheelchairs reserved and spare stools were available. We recruited a small team of volunteers within the museum to provide extra information and support. We booked a large room with easy access to the adapted toilets. Participants were requested to bring lunch and we offered refreshments.
Every effort was made to ensure that visitors were welcome and felt comfortable. The day provided a range of activities and visitors had the choice of getting involved. Activities included object handling, staff talks about the history of the Museum and its collection. Residents visited the permanent galleries in small groups accompanied by our knowledgeable volunteers. During the afternoon, a curator"s introduction to the major exhibition Celts: art and identity was an opportunity for some to handle more objects and visit the exhibition.The highlight was the Breton music where some residents were involved in dancing with the Breton dancers.
Feedback received from participants and care home staff was extremely positive:
"I took it as a great challenge, I"ve only just come out of hospital and it"s done me a world of good. Made my weekend."
"I used to be a journalist, I was up half the night writing because I was so excited about my day with you, it was fantastic, I want to thank you so much"
"Look at all their faces, have you ever seen them so animated?" Activities Co-ordinator
"George and David are from different care homes and haven"t met before but today they introduced themselves to each other and went around the Parthenon exhibition together. Both said they would like to go for a pint together which we are now going to try and organise."
Care Home Manager
Age Friendly Museums Day is on the first week of October. Sign up to the Age Friendly Museums Network