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Crafting a Better Care Environment

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There is always lots going on in our care homes. Each home is committed to providing a wide range of activities, and arts and crafts prove consistently popular. Emily Heath, Activities Co-ordinator at Brendoncare Alton, shares her thoughts on how "everything is possible" when it comes to craft activities, with just a little thought and preparation.

In the time since I started working in a care setting I’ve seen some serious changes to the way activities are perceived, received, and organised. Activity within a care setting is no longer glanced over, which for me as an Activities Coordinator is fantastic!

I know some people look at arts and crafts as a child-like activity to try and undertake with a man or woman in their later years, but from my point of view and the points of views of those ladies and gents getting stuck into creating, it’s a fabulous way of seeing something take shape that they have built.

Working with activities you’ll find that lots of people will ‘suggest’ certain things for craft activities, but there is a practicality involved with setting out an art project for those ladies and gents we support every day, and only those who know a person will understand what that person needs to be able to get the most out of every activity they undertake. Every activity, crafts or otherwise, has to be person centred; tailored to those who are interested in taking part.

That could mean anything from making sure the paint colours you use are easily discernible from each other, because a person with macular degeneration has trouble differentiating between blues and greens, to finding large handled pencils/paintbrushes/scissors because someone is suffering from arthritis and can no longer grip a small crafting tool properly. The motto for arts and crafts in a care setting should never be, “Why can’t we do this?” but, “How can we make this possible?” because in my experience everything is possible with a little tweak and fiddle.

It’s not just the practical side of using arts and crafts in the care/activity setting that we should think about, but the numerous benefits, both physical and spiritual, that come from having chance to continue to create in later life:

  • The continued use of a person’s hands and joints guarantees some measure of maintained dexterity, whether that be using a pair of scissors or painting whole vistas. Holding an item, one that is well adapted to its user, will help that user continue to be able to do these things.
  • The sense of accomplishment that comes from the simplest of craft activities, such as colouring in season themed pictures, to physically building peacocks with sticky button tail feathers, is immense. You yourself know when you’ve completed any task or activity that brings a finished product into the world, it is something you cherish as not only a memory but a physical object.
  • There is a measure of relaxation attached to being focused on a ‘doing’ task; when our minds are free from worry and we are working with our hands, we tend to live in that moment, not allowing other thoughts to penetrate the mask of creating something.
  • The well-being attached to arts and crafts within this environment are many, varied, and as individual as the people going on the creative journey with you.

With that in mind – here are two simple ideas for arts and crafts activities that you can do at home, or at work. Why not print them out and give them a try?

Painting with Marbles

Sticky Button Peacocks

Thank you to Vicky Cox, also from Brendoncare Alton, for these first two suggestions. We hope to add to these over time, so keep checking back for more ideas, or feel free to email any suggestions for craft activities to