RESIDENTS living in care are going digital to keep connected and creative as homes close their doors amid COVID-19.
These past four weeks creative ageing charity Equal Arts has been working with its artists and care homes to quickly adapt how it continues to bring creative opportunities to older people living with dementia, in care and those self-isolating.
Artists are dialling in to live stream creative sessions with residents, care staff are being supported with creative how-to guides and members of the 12-venue Gateshead Care Home Choir are beginning to sing together again as they restart their rehearsals via Zoom with musician Liz Corney.
Kate Parkin, Creative Age Programme Manager at Equal Arts, said: 'With care homes restricting access to ensure people are safe, the need to keep connected is all the more important. Residents are unable to have visits from loved ones and usual routines have changed. In some venues lockdown has gone further with residents remaining in their rooms amid concerns of infection.
'The enthusiastic response from care staff at a time when they're under a huge amount of pressure has been overwhelming and we're incredibly proud of the support of artists and care staff to help make this happen.
'We know the importance of maintaining your wellbeing, no matter what your age is and for people living in care this is no different. Being in the moment, exploring your creativity and focusing on what you can achieve all has a positive impact on how you feel.'
Among those taking part in trialling the digital sessions has been The Oaks in Blyth where residents have been a part of the charity's HenPower Project for the past year with Equal Arts' associate Sam Burgess.
Angela Hedley, activities coordinator at the venue run by Hill Care, said: 'Our session this week made such a difference to me as well as the residents. Other staff really recognised the benefits of creative activities and saw how they helped the residents feel involved. It's been great to have Sam's support and even with limited numbers you can really tell the session has made a difference to people's wellbeing.'
For those self-isolating and social distancing at home, Equal Arts has also launched its HenPals scheme sharing people's letters, drawings and poems with the care homes it supports.
To get involved email photos of letters and drawings to firstname.lastname@example.org