Lakeside Care Home is among many nursing homes keen to recognize the role that artistic expression can play in the lives of their residents. Specialising in care for those with mental illnesses and dementia, this South London based home runs art classes every week, an engaging and creative experience for everyone involved. We spoke to Lois Pollock, a social worker from the home, who set up this fantastic programme.
1. Can you tell us about how the use of art allows those suffering with dementia to express themselves?
Art has been recognized for some years now as a useful form of communication for people living with dementia, from early diagnosis until late stage dementia. When language no longer provides a form of communication, use of color through painting can replace it and provide an emotional outlet for the person with dementia. For a person who can no longer use a paint brush, finger and hand painting can become their expressive tool.
2. How important are the art classes to your group at Lakeside?
The art group at Lakeside began two months ago and the attendance has remained consistently high with between 8 - 10 regular attendees. The sense of companionship between residents, some of their relatives who come as volunteers, and a couple of regular staff members is very important. Residents visibly show a sense of pride in their achievements and the room is a place of safety, laughter and warmth.
3. Are there any special exercises that you do within your classes?
I always have some preplanned ideas and activities in my head: sometimes I have to completely ditch them because on the day, they are not right for the mood or group. One learns to be totally flexible! I always try out the materials before I take them into the art room. This is essential as people living with advanced dementia have lost the capacity to think laterally or even to recognize many options. We did some great prints with cut cabbages, celery, carrots etc., and using Reeves Oasis kids paints. (Great value and ready mixed is useful)
4. What are you top Cass Art products to use? Which are the most popular in your group?
Your range of fibre tip pens; (group members especially like Galt fibre tips); the Galt Paint sticks and the wonderful Charlie Harper coloring books that are entirely appropriate for adults. I also bought "Let's make some great fingerprint art" but haven't yet tried it out. (Many people with advanced dementia don't like getting their hands dirty which poses a challenge for me, for both hand painting and finger print painting!)
The group goes through a lot of paper! Cass always has good deals on a variety of qualities of paper so I am able to offer a range of different types.
Cass Art is proud to support Lois' incredible work with the team at Lakeside Care Home. Details of the home can be found here.