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By Debbie le Quesne

Living Room project clears first grant hurdle

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As the dear old girl used to say who once ran the tea trolley in a previous working life: “It’s been a week.”

So the mix of stress, bad care industry headlines and more bad care industry headlines needs an antidote.

And here it is, as if by magic appearing in my cluttered email basket. Do you recall the Living Room project grant application which the West Midlands Care Association was partnering? Well, under the management of independent community interest company Creative Health, the scheme which aims to dramatically challenge the stereotypes of entertainment and activities delivered in care homes, has overcome the first big hurdle in getting Arts Council funding.

A ten-minute presentation and an hour’s interview will now be the decider. I don’t have a date yet, but there’s some frantic activity to get the best possible pitch we can.

The thrust of the project is to integrate artwork into care where professional artists, performers and residents are all encouraged to interact. Key to the project’s on-going success will be the training of activity coordinators in the homes.

Some 30,000 older people in residential care settings and more than 4,000 care workers would be targeted.

The “Living Room – Turning the Everyday into the Extraordinary” application explains: “We all pass time in our living room: somewhere to chat, undertake activities, rest, welcome visitors or watch television, together.

“Creative Health CIC and partners are proposing to use the idea of the family living room – where we feel at home, comfortable; surrounded by the people we love and also the everyday objects that mean something to us – to inspire a ‘Living Arts Room’ . . . a living, breathing space that stimulates warmth, emotion, sharing between residents. Families, providers, staff [and] artists.”

Living Room also aims to carry out a feasibility study into a Quality Mark for Arts in Care Homes. Together, residents, care staff and artists would benchmark arts activity in care homes.

Everything about the Living Room plan challenges the very heart of the traditional approach to residential setting entertainment and craft. Instead of being an add-on, the idea is to actually integrate art into care.

It’s all about adding to the self-worth of residents and other users, stimulation and building stronger relationships with each other and community. Basically, it’s remapping our thinking on the role of arts in care and I love it.

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