The role of arts and culture in care homes

my role as a former principal inspector when looking for best practice
in care homes an important consideration of any inspection, was always
the range of activities provided for residents. If an inspector when
visiting a home is shown to the resident’s lounge and is confronted with
an exceedingly loud television with a large number of residents sitting
in front of it, they will begin to ask the question what activities are
being provided for residents. In their latest review of the Key Lines of Enquiry the Care Quality Commission are also placing a greater weighting on activities as an indicator of the resident’s quality of life.

The Social Care Institute for Excellence and All-Party Parliamentary Group on Arts, Health and Wellbeing.
The Role of the Arts and Culture in Social Care Policy Briefing – July
2017, supports the importance of a range of activities for residents in
care homes including art and culture.

The key messages from the briefing are:
• The arts can help keep us well, aid our recovery and support longer lives better lived.
• The arts can help meet major challenges facing social care: ageing, long-term conditions, loneliness and mental health.
• The arts can help save money in social care.

All-Party Parliamentary Group on Arts, Health and Wellbeing (APPGAHW)
has undertaken a major Inquiry into the role of the arts in health and
wellbeing, with which the Social Care Institute for Excellence (SCIE)
has been involved. The Inquiry yielded a substantial report – Creative
Health: The Arts for Health and Wellbeing – providing strong evidence
that creative and cultural activities can have a positive impact on
people’s health and wellbeing.

report found that in older people’s Services a growing body of evidence
and practical experience that shows the engagement in the arts should
be considered an integral part of healthy ageing. Social isolation and
loneliness affect people of all ages. In older adults, social
participation is more beneficial for health than giving up smoking.
Around the country, community-based creative and cultural opportunities
are being offered to older people as a way of overcoming social
isolation and loneliness.

The research found:

Participatory arts sessions in care homes yield improvements in
residents’ wellbeing and the quality of care being provided by staff.

Artists’ residencies in care homes prove popular with participants and
carers alike, animating and personalising the care environment.

The All-Party Parliamentary Group support the proposal of artists’ residencies in every care home.
Inspector of Adult Social Care for the Care Quality Commission (CQC),
Andrea Sutcliffe, has pointed to the role of the arts in enabling people
to live full and meaningful lives, identifying the best care homes to
be ‘flexible and responsive to people’s individual needs and
preferences, finding creative ways to enable people to live a full life.

hope that this positive view will lead to more examples of care home
providers securing culturally stimulating environments for their
residents and staff and incorporating the arts into care packages.

imaginative and holistic approach, which positively impacts on the
wellbeing of residents, will make care homes more attractive to
commissioners. SCIE has curated a digital resource, funded by the Baring
Foundation, to increase their confidence and skills of care home staff
in engaging residents in the arts.

for older people’s dance classes now outstrips supply. Evidence is
emerging that arts engagement helps to delay the onset of dementia.
Musical training can enhance the plasticity of the brain, and visual art
can improve cognitive functioning.

in creative and cultural activities can improve the quality of life for
people with dementia and their carers. Arts on Prescription As part of a
move towards place-based care, social prescribing seeks solutions to
psychosocial problems in the community beyond the clinical environment.
The most common outcomes of such community referral schemes are:
increases in self-esteem and confidence; a greater sense of control and
empowerment; improvements in psychological wellbeing; and reductions in
anxiety and depression. Arts on prescription is a vital part of social
prescribing, providing participatory creative activities that help to
restore people’s wellbeing and reduce anxiety, depression and stress.


is a great deal of evidence that the offer of a range of activities to
residents in care homes is beneficial to their health and wellbeing. The
Social Care Institute for Excellence and All-Party Parliamentary Group
on Arts, Health and Wellbeing – The Role of the Arts and Culture report
provides a description of what can be achieved in a care home setting.
An emphasis on art and culture will not only improve the quality of life
for residents, but provide staff with an added interesting element to
their work

Published July 27, 2017 | By Bettal Consultancy

Albert Cook BA, MA & Fellow Charted Quality Institute

Published by Residential Forum

The Residential Forum is to promote the achievement of high standards of care and support for children and adults living in residential care and nursing homes, supported housing, residential schools and colleges, hospices and hostels. It contributes to improving the quality of service to the public. Members of the Forum are people of standing and experience drawn from the public, private and voluntary sectors, as well as some who can speak for service users and carers.

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