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Benefits of using arts in care homes

Registered managers of care homes are always on the lookout for person centred activities that will involve service users. The

Social Care Institute for Excellence (SCIE), are promoting the benefits and the importance of art in care homes by bringing together a range of resources that allows managers to tap into and improve the quality of life for service users.

The following are links to general information produced by SCIE about the importance on arts in care homes and the resources available:

This joint publication with NCF (the National Care Forum – the umbrella body for not-for-profit care providers) and NAPA (the National Association for Providers of Activities for Older People celebrates existing good practice in the use of the arts in residential care and demonstrates the value of art to improving the quality of life for people in care settings. (Baring Foundation).

This web-based resource provides information to help evaluate the impact of art and health projects. Sections providing information to help understand why you might need to evaluate, what approaches might be appropriate, and how to plan and implement evaluation for a project. (Willis Newson).

This publication describes the unique combination of roles and interests by local authorities which make them the ideal champions for arts and older people. These are: health and wellbeing; arts and cultural services; older people’s services and social care; social inclusion and leadership and coordination. These are illustrated by six case studies. (Baring Foundation).

This report revisits and updates the work done for the 2012 publication Digital Arts and Older People. It explores developments since 2012 in the field of artists working with older people using creative technology. New and additional benefits of using digital tools with older people are considered and 10 new case studies of practice are presented. (Some of which are used in our topic areas.) (Baring Foundation).

This report reviews evidence relating to the benefits of arts participation for people with dementia. It draws on research spanning the fields of health, dementia care and participatory arts. This is one of a series of publications around arts and dementia that have grown out of Live and Learn. (Collective Encounters).

All available evidence indicates that imaginative mental exercises have a direct, positive impact on the health of individuals living with dementia. Arts-based activities such as the ones featured in this guide have been shown to help people with dementia to manage their symptoms, significantly enhancing their quality of life in the process. This guide is the result of three years of research in Merseyside with the carers of people living with dementia (Creative Encounters).

This report highlights imaginative programmes that have been developed in communities across the UK by Churchill Fellows, following their global travels to witness inspiring practice in other countries. Projects, which have particularly concentrated on work around art and dementia have taken place under five topics: art form; day care; training for care staff; artists in care settings and evaluating impact. (Baring Foundation).

The programme was delivered in 2012 by City Arts for Nottingham City Council. Events were held to stimulate interest in the project and provide practical support to staff from residential care settings. An artist in residence worked with a care home to trial different approaches to improve wellbeing of residents and to enable Activity Co-ordinators to continue the work beyond the project. (City Arts).

This review is the first synthesis of the evidence base for the effects of participating in artist-led creative projects on older people. It concludes that ‘it is evident that engaging with participatory art can improve the wellbeing of older people and mediate against the negative effects of becoming older’. These impacts are explored in terms of mental and physical wellbeing at the individual, community and societal levels. (Mental Health Foundation).

This review of academic and grey literature contextualises the participatory arts for people living with dementia and provides an overview of some of the art forms that are most widely used. Looks at the benefits of using participatory arts and highlights some of the current gaps in the knowledge base. (International Journal of Ageing).

This online resource pack brings together a collection resources to help promote the importance of arts and creative activities for older residents in care homes. It aims to support care staff to plan and run creative arts sessions and help then work with professional artists. (Care Inspectorate).

This guide is for activity coordinators and other members of care staff involved with, or interested in, supporting older people to take part in learning activities. (National Institute of Adult Continuing Education).


The Social Care Institute for Excellence and their partners should be commended for bringing together this resource pack that promotes the importance of the arts in care homes. This can be seen as a valuable tool for managers and an essential means of improving the quality of life for service users.

Albert Cook BA, MA & Fellow Charted Quality Institute Managing Director Bettal Quality Consultancy

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