On National Day of Arts in Care Homes, we are publishing a report on our successful After Party project which reached locked-down care home residents during the Covid-19 pandemic – keeping them in touch with the volunteers from the Cocktails in Care Homes project (which for obvious reasons was unable to continue).
As soon as the severity of the Covid-19 pandemic became apparent Magic Me was keen to stay true to its mission of bringing the generations together. The Cocktails in Care Homes project brings younger working age adults together with older people living in care homes and extra care schemes. As Lockdown was announced the team at Magic Me started to work out how they could continue to deliver the final months of their Cocktails in Care Homes project in a way that would work for both the adult volunteers and the care home residents and staff. The period from March to July had been set as the finale for the project which was coming to a close after 10 years. Instead of the planned schedule of parties, volunteers and care home residents were kept apart first by lockdown restrictions and subsequently by the understandable caution of care home providers who continue to keep residents in isolation from the wider community.
How then to deliver a project that is entirely based on human interaction and communication – where volunteers go once a month to care homes and set up a party?
Very quickly we brought on board four artists to help develop a new version of the project – titled ‘The After Party’.
We also asked Alison Teader, Project Manager for NAPA Arts in Care Homes, to provide an evaluation of both Cocktails in Care Homes and its Covid-19 variation. Her report is launched today and she says:
“It was wonderful to see how Magic Me adapted their Cocktails in Care Homes parties into a remote activity for their partner care settings and volunteers during lockdown. This was a rapid response to the Covid-19 situation and what came across very powerfully, from talking to care staff and volunteers, was how helpful it was for them to have this creative stimulation and a chance to connect at a very difficult time. Participatory arts projects and sessions in care settings will have to evolve, adapt and develop over the coming months due to the current situation. Magic Me’s The After Party project provides a snapshot in time and an invaluable insight into how future creative sessions could be delivered along with topics for discussion and further exploration.”
The After Party project was designed to be a creative and interactive way of keeping the Cocktails in Care Homes community of volunteers, care home residents, staff and family members connected.
As well as allowing the project to continue to its planned end date, albeit in a different form, it also helped Magic Me think about how they might do things differently in the future.
Bethany Haynes, Magic Me’s Programme Director says:
“This learning, from a time of national emergency, is likely to continue to inform the way both Magic Me and other similar organisations might work with care homes in the future. Now we know what is possible in these difficult circumstances, we are asking how can what we have learnt from this inform our future work and the existing body of creative practice? This is particularly relevant for intergenerational work and how we might design projects when (and if) we are able to return to face to face work, bearing in mind that care homes may take a long time to be in a position to welcome volunteers, children and artists into the homes.”
We also asked artist Chuck Blue Lowry to create a film to celebrate 10 years of Cocktails in Care Homes as we say farewell to that project and look forward to new projects that address how to create intergenerational connections with care home residents – particularly in the evenings and at weekends (and at the moment, within the covid-19 guidelines). Watch the film on Vimeo.
We are thrilled to share ‘Sound Selecta’ – mixed and hosted by artist Shepherd Manyika produced as part of The After Party activities. Featuring everything from Abba and Bill Withers to Eryka Badu and Radiohead, chosen by you – our Volunteers and Resident Party Go-ers, Care Staff and Magic Me staff, it also features an exclusive performance by Michael from Elgin Close in Shepherds Bush, whose singing used to close every party. Bravo Michael!
Thank you to all those who contributed – we hope you enjoy! Listen to Sound Selecta on MixCloud.