New report investigates growing the creative ageing movement

Published: 15 Jun 2017

Author: Helen Aherne
New report investigates growing the creative ageing movement

There are now 11.6 million people aged 65 or over in the UK, of which 1.5 million people are aged 85 or over*.

Over a 4 year period beginning in 2010, The Winston Churchill Memorial Trust collaborated with the Baring Foundation to fund 47 Churchill Fellowships in a programme entitled 'Creative Ageing', examining the belief that the arts can play a positive role in older people's lives, including those with dementia.

In recent years there have been many exciting developments in this burgeoning field.

This report brings together some of the findings from the Churchill Fellows' international, experiential research projects, particularly concentrating on the work around the arts and dementia.

Commenting on the report, Baroness Joan Bakewell DBE

"As one of the older generation myself and someone interested in its welfare, I’m always delighted to hear of new and meaningful arts programmes specifically designed to encourage participation in creative activities into later life. I welcome this report and believe that the Fellows’ work will inspire others to actively set up or to participate in more community arts." 

The Churchill Fellows are arts practitioners, dancers, therapists, care workers, writers, trainers and directors, providing community activities and opportunities for older people, covering creativity and person-centred care in many aspects of music, dance, drama and the visual arts.

Following their global findings, it is hoped that this report will offer ideas and examples of innovative practice that can be taken forward by practitioners and those interested in creative ageing, to adapt to their own specialism or context.

Key learning points in the report:

  • Supportive, high-quality leadership is critical to the success of creative initiatives and their influence on organisational culture in care settings.
  • Partnership working between the cultural, health and adult education sectors should support the development of imaginative day services for older people.
  • The importance of developing artists’ networks to share ideas and best practice is essential for the growth of the sector.
  • There is a need for ‘shadowing’ opportunities and more formal training opportunities for artists working in the field.
  • There is a need for longer-term artists’ residencies in care homes rather than traditional two-hour weekly sessions, with an emphasis on involving managers, staff team and residents – a ‘whole home’ approach.
  • Care staff training needs to incorporate creative approaches and the role of activities co-ordinators needs to be elevated, with a clear path to continued professional development.
  • Better advocacy is required to raise the profile of the work.
  • There is huge potential for delivering multi-sensory, multi art form approaches to support the quality of life for people living with dementia in care homes and this needs cross sector training.
  • Creative and artistic initiatives should be used for care staff self-care to help staff retention.

Download the full report: Growing the Creative Ageing Movement

*(Later Life in the United Kingdom, by Age UK - April 2017)

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