Figuring-out alternative approaches
As I was sat writing about our care home project last month, I would never have imagined the situation we’re all sitting in now. How fast things have moved in this confusing and upsetting time. All of our projects working alongside people living with dementia are now on hold for an indefinite time. And John and I have been doing some serious reframing.
As creatives we are in a fortunate position – with a fully stocked art and music studio, we have plenty of toys and a long list of things we want to learn/create/experiment with, in the studio. But our co-creative work has been paused and we don’t want to let go of it completely and simply hole-up in the studio – John calls this ‘woodshedding’, locking yourself away in the shed for a time to intensively practice your instrument. Woodshedding is good, but we want a bit of reaching-out to continue as well.
The care home project is only two months in, but we’ve had such a great response from service users and staff that we want to find ways to keep the co-creative energy going in the homes. The staff participants have given their energy and enthusiasm to the project, engaging with the sessions and putting the work in between sessions. I’ve been giving staff ‘homework’ – ideas and activities to work on alongside service users between our monthly sessions. We can’t go into the homes now, but we can still offer the staff support and guidance to keep some co-creative activities happening.
I don’t know quite how or if this will work, but bizarre times call for us to be brave in trying out new and untested things. The participants from the four care homes – we call them the collectives – have been making digital images and gathering objects as part of the project and I’ll be making this the core of things as we move forward remotely. At the sessions, the collectives have been sharing their images, I’ve responded to these and suggested how to take things forward before the next session. I hope that we can now continue this remotely, with staff sending me the images, and I’ve already had some positive responses from staff on this – they’ve seen the impact of the sessions and activities on their service users and they’re keen to keep things going.
It’s early days, but I’m going to push a lot of energy in this direction and I do feel heartened by initial responses from the staff. John is working on ideas for bringing-in his input as a musician from a distance and we’ll just see how things pan out and emerge. I do feel that the folk living and working in the care homes will risk feeling isolated and side-lined (even more than they usually do) during this time and I’m determined to try my best to keep connections alive and the co-creative vibe going. I plan to create an online space for the project where we can share the collectives ongoing work, this should be live by the end of April, so watch this space.