Since August 2021 artists from Magic Me, have been connecting with care professionals in Essex. They are working together to design and facilitate creative activities that can be delivered with older people with a range of needs. They are focusing on how to do this with residents who are unable to (or who prefer not to) leave their bed or room as well as those who are or less likely to join group activities.
The project is funded by Essex County Council and builds on Magic Me’s work with care professionals in Tower Hamlets and Waltham Forest and follows from work in Essex which includes a ground-breaking Artists’ Residencies in Care Homes project taking place in Maldon, Colchester, Harwich and Chigwell and contributions to Essex County Council’s Creative Journeys project.
Two care homes act as pilots for the project. Staff at Quenby home in Colchester and Edensor home in Clacton-On-Sea are taking part in weekly workshops delivered by artists Lily Ash Sakula (them/them) and Georgia Akbar (she/her). They are using these workshops to test different ways to engage in creative activities that use sensory processes, experimental filmmaking and mindfulness. As part of this work the artists offer in depth support to staff across the home to deliver the activities and feed into the creative process.
Alongside the weekly workshops at Quenby and Edensor, Magic Me will bring together a wider group of care professionals from six additional homes to trial activities and share back their experiences. They will also be hosting monthly network meetings where they aim to provide fresh creative activities and give care staff an opportunity to connect with people in other homes as well as provide a space in which they can share their expertise and ideas. Feedback from this network will be fed into the development of an online offer for other homes in Essex.
We are excited to be expanding our work in Essex. It’s particularly encouraging to see how a model developed out of the restrictions in the pandemic (and which we used in our Inside Out project in Waltham Forest), has become something that can empower a large number of staff in homes across a whole county. We see this collaboration between artists and care professionals as an important area for development, particularly as the future remains uncertain and the pandemic far from contained.
Susan Langford, Director
All photos are from workshops held at Quenby care home
All Photos credit: Lily Ash Sakula and Georgia Akbar for Magic Me