Creativity is a powerful force that can help people recall happy memories, express themselves in different ways and lower their levels of anxiety. Arts and crafts are a popular creative pursuit that offer a huge range of activities, themes, materials and fun. In care homes, arts and crafts can form an important part of a wider therapy offering that ties in with healthcare.
What does art therapy involve?
Art therapy is a form of psychotherapy, alongside similar disciplines, such as music therapy or drama therapy. It helps people identify, express and work through the issues and concerns that are affecting them and possibly stopping them from achieving what they want or need to do in certain areas. It provides a safe space for people to explore their feelings without feeling judged or under pressure.
Art therapy activities can differ according to the personal interests of those taking part, as well as the available resources. For example, people can paint in oils or watercolours, draw with pencils or felt tip pens, make collages out of different types of paper or cuttings from magazines or take photographs and use them to create pictures and scrapbook scenes.
Why offer art therapy?
The benefits of art therapy are well proven and established for older and other vulnerable care home residents. Engaging in painting, drawing, collage etc can help stimulate the mind and help maintain cognitive functions. Skills such as problem solving, decision-making, creative design and hand-eye co-ordination are all practised during an art therapy session.
Group sessions also come with added advantages around socialising and connecting with others. People can share thoughts and admire each other’s art, or work together on a joint project to help them bond with each other and build trust. Finally, focusing on an art project can help relieve stress and take participants’ minds off their worries for a while, promoting overall wellbeing and relaxation.
As already mentioned, there are a very large number of ways to introduce art and arty activities into a care home’s daily, weekly or monthly routines. Simple art and crafts clubs can be organised in a communal area with art materials and supplies all provided, along with tea, coffee and snacks, or wine and cheese to keep people going. Art can also be used in more formal therapy settings, where people can make pictures, models, scrapbooks etc to help them express their feelings.
Other arty ideas include arranging day trips to local art galleries and museums or inviting speakers into the home to share presentations on art history, examples of their own work, insights into crafting techniques etc. One or more residents might be keen to share their own arts and crafts skills with others. Closer to Christmas, arts and crafts can double up as card or decoration making sessions to help cheer up the home during the festive season. Residents ,might also be keen to hold their very own art exhibition, featuring pieces that they have created during their own art therapy sessions. Afterwards, pictures, models, photos etc could be sold or auctioned off for charity.
How can Care Vision support art therapy
Using Care Vision can help care homes interested in introducing art therapy, or expanding its existing provision. For example, the most effective art therapy takes the person’s interests and uses them to inform and design the therapeutic activities and themes that are provided for them. Care Vision has a function that enables managers and carers to build up a personal entry for each resident, including likes and dislikes, individual needs and personality. This information can help art therapists create sessions that truly embody ‘person-led care’. From a logistics and planning point of view, Care Vision can also help care managers and staff responsible for planning art therapy and other wellbeing activities.
For example, the staff rota and shift planning tools can ensure that there are enough people available to run the session and focus on the residents’ enjoyment and safety. Planning tools and budgeting software can help with purchasing decisions and supplies procurement. Finally, Care Vision can help managers plan day trips and visits from local artists and speakers to enrich the art experiences being offered within the home.