Artists' Residencies in Care Homes Essex

Collaborating and sharing our expertise with professional arts companies to challenge pre-conceptions of the arts in care homes

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Artist Residencies in Care Homes (ARCH):

The Project | The Report |

Highlights from the Showcase Event

 “I passionately believe that just because someone lives in a care home they don’t stop being entitled to high quality arts and culture, or to a participative experience that is more than just something to pass the time” – Susan Langford, Magic Me Director


The Project

Magic Me always aims to challenge care homes and arts organisations to be adventurous in what they offer to older residents. We also want to better understand and share what it takes to deliver great arts in a care home setting.

Building on the success of Artist Residencies in Care Homes 2015-2017 in London we developed a Theory of Change and expanded our support of arts opportunities to underserved care homes and communities in Essex. From 2019 to 2023 our Artists’ Residencies in Care Homes (ARCH) programme saw high profile arts companies team up with Excelcare homes across Essex to create new artworks with and for older care home residents. 

We facilitated four leading arts organisations including New Adventures, Fevered Sleep, curious directive and Gecko to deliver innovative participatory arts experiences for residents and staff. They worked closely with care home staff and residents and introduced them to various art forms from movement and dance, to weaving and Virtual Reality. 

Alongside these programmes, researchers from Anglia Ruskin University tracked and evaluated the work, with the aim of developing a best practice toolkit to help others wanting to do ambitious work in this area. 


The Report

“To say that we’ve done that in a care home and that it’s worked, you know. We shout about it really, don’t we?” Care home post-residency.

To view the full report and project findings please click here for the downloadable PDF or view desktop flipbook below.

There is also a shorter summary you can check out here.

The full illustrated report published September 2023 features:

  • Background & context of the programmes including how partnerships were set up 
  • Our responses to the Covid-19 pandemic
  • How to build trust and relationships & the essentials of working collaboratively
  • Adapting to care homes & working inclusively
  • An easy-reference summary of key learning and recommendations.

“‘The power of participatory arts was seen across the findings and highlighted the importance of the ARCH programme for both arts organisations and care homes.. There were many examples of “special moments” where the arts generated meaningful impact.. The residents and staff alike were proud of their involvement in the project and were keen to share it with families and their local communities.” – report excerpt.

We are all very proud of the work done and made during the programme and encourage you to read and share our report with your colleagues and networks.


The Showcase & Report Launch Event 27 September 2023

On Wednesday 27 September 2023, all those involved with the project gathered at Anglia Ruskin University to share their learnings and present to an audience of professionals and activists working in the areas of care, the arts and health. 

We saw fantastic interactive presentations from all of our artist partners who discussed in great detail their perspectives in working with care home staff and residents and how this might be replicated. They also shared with us all touching case studies as well as examples of exercises delivered in the care homes that the audience could join in with, illuminating some of the day to day experiences and accomplishments of their programmes. The talks closed with research findings presented by Dr Ceri Wilson of Anglia Ruskin University. We were also delighted to have guest speaker Emma Coleman from our project funders Paul Hamlyn Foundation and Dr Richard Ings from Arts Council England, who chaired our Q&A session and panel discussion at the end of the event.

Featured image for this page is from the Artists’ Residencies in Care Homes with Fevered Sleep and Sherrell House Care Home, 2022

The project was funded by Paul Hamlyn Foundation