“Sometimes we are led to believe that projects such as a ten minute theatre performance by amateur actors with dementia is successful, but this may not be the case as an unusual and sophisticated art project doesn’t necessarily meet the needs of the participants. There is a hidden danger in progressive projects which are sometimes designed to attract participants and promote the work of the company or facilitator organising them, and not to serve the needs of the participants. It’s a blessing that so many artists and organisations are using art in healthcare settings but most of the time there are no assessments of the individuals’ needs or an evaluation of these projects. We keep proving success by showing pictures with older people laughing while they are holding a puppet or a brush. If the camera lens is focused on a happy older lady doing yoga, then out of frame is likely to be an older man with advanced dementia, who is asleep on an armchair. Does this make this activity successful?”
Activities in care homes can have a huge impact upon the lives of older people, but we must make sure the workshops cater to the needs of the participants, not the performers! Eirini Dermitzaki explores how we can make sure care home activities best serve older Londoners.