Image shown: Age & Opportunity’s Artist in Residence in a Care Setting 2019: Visual artist Andy Parsons' residency in Killybegs Community Hospital

Image shown: Age & Opportunity’s Artist in Residence in a Care Setting 2019: Visual artist Andy Parsons' residency in Killybegs Community Hospital

The Care Hubs of Arts Excellence are an initiative of Age & Opportunity’s Arts Programme which focuses on older people’s artistic creativity and creative potential, and supports the meaningful participation and inclusion of older people in cultural and creative life.

The programme is anchored in the annual Bealtaine Festival and a series of year-round resource and development initiatives which support artists, arts participants and arts organisations.

The 2021 Care Hubs of Creative Excellence programme consisted of:

  • ARCS residencies in six care settings
  • Bespoke Azure tours (dementia friendly tours of cultural institutions) and Creative Exchanges training course targeted at the local areas surrounding these care settings
  • Research commissioned to explore how the arts can be embedded in the culture of social care settings, specifically within the context of COVID-19, and more generally.

The Artist in Residence in a Care Setting (ARCS) initiative creates opportunities for older people living in or attending care settings to engage creatively with an artist over the course of a number of months. It also creates an opportunity for the artist to develop their specific skills in relation to working in arts and health settings. The project is funded by Creative Ireland, with support from the Arts Council and the Health Service Executive (HSE).

In 2017, the first residency was established with artist Joanna Hopkins at the Orchard Day Care Centre in Blackrock. This was followed in 2018 by the Fairland Collective residency in St. Josephs, Shankill, Dublin. In 2019, ARCS expanded to a further six residential and day care settings. A new group of artists engaged with the same centres into 2020/21 and provided the focus for an independent evaluation in 2021 conducted by Imogen Blood & Associates, working in partnership with Practice Solutions.

The evaluation focused on the process of implementing the Care Hubs of Arts Excellence and the impact of the initiative in the following areas:

  • Creating new knowledge of and best practice in the arts in care settings
  • Creating further access to excellent arts for the residents and staff of the care settings
  • Linking those care settings more closely to their surrounding communities (and vice versa)
  • The possibilities for the arts in care settings around Ireland during and post Covid-19
  • The development of regional hubs of arts excellence in care settings around Ireland.

The positive engagement of care settings and outcomes for staff and participants evidenced in the report demonstrate that access to the arts should be available to those in care settings as a matter of course rather than exception. Age and Opportunity’s aim is for artist residencies to be available in care settings in every county in Ireland.

Apart from the intrinsic value of the arts and creative experience, outcomes include a self-reported and documented increase in the wellbeing and sociability of residents and staff, as well as a sense of increased personhood and collective recognition between them. The initiative was of benefit to families too, increasing peace of mind in terms of seeing their loved ones happier.

Read the Report: Evaluation of Care Hubs of Arts and Creative Excellence Initiative


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