Six projects supporting creative exploration and responses to grief and loss in a residential care setting have been awarded Irish Hospice Foundation Seed Grants, in conjunction with Caru.

Following a call out to artists and healthcare professionals to submit proposals in May, the selected projects align with Caru’s ambition to support and improve the delivery of compassionate, person-centred, palliative, end of life, and bereavement care to residents, loved ones, and staff in nursing homes. The successful applicants will join a nationwide Peer Network for capacity building, and will connect with quality improvement, staff engagement and care competencies.

Awardees include activity co-ordinators, academics, artists, and writers. Deploying a wide range of creative practice, each project is aimed at encouraging safe conversations about end-of-life planning, dying, death, grief, and loss. This will be reflected in the use of song, drama, film, theatre, writing, poetry, movement, storytelling, memorabilia, mosaics, collage, and painting.

Projects will develop from June until November 2024 at residential care settings in Cavan, Clare, Dublin, Donegal, Limerick and Louth.

“Research resulting from surveys such as our own Time to Reflect and Dying Well at Home, along with National End of Life, show appropriate conversations about dying and loss in all its forms supports the personalising of care in residential care settings. Open discussion about end-of-life planning, cultural expectation and diversity in all senses can reduce stress at such challenging times. Often people lack confidence to do so. Creative approaches, or the use of the arts or cultural tools, can help.” – CEO of IHF Paula O’Reilly

Arts in Residential Care Seed Grant Recipients 2024

  • Unveiling Shadows (Dublin): Gabrielle Breathnach, a youth drama worker, will lead a series of drama and theatre classes for the staff and visitors of Anna Gaynor House, Residential Care, Harold’s Cross Hospice in Dublin.
  • Community Choir (Limerick): Activity Co-ordinator Michelle Clifford will form a new choir at Milford Nursing Home in Limerick to nurture culture change and community building.
  • Space for Remembrance and Healing (Clare): Artist Lisa Hester will develop on her existing relationship with Ennis Road Care Facility in Clare to establish both dedicated group and one-to-one art sessions aimed at safely and quietly exploring grief and loss.
  • Moving Forward with Grief (Cavan): Multi-disciplinary artist Helen Keenan will work alongside the Activity Co-ordinator at Esker Lodge Nursing Home in Cavan to deliver a series of phased interventions.
  • In My Thoughts (Louth): Under the stewardship of Elaine Moloney, Director of Nursing at Sunhill Nursing Home in Louth, two artists will build on existing residencies using multiple art forms to act as prompts for conversations with residents, staff, and loved ones, leading to a support pack for families.
  • Roots of Remembrance (Donegal): Artist Rebecca Strain began working with Brindley Manor Nursing Home during the pandemic. She will establish a once-a-week art room focusing on mosaics for residents and staff, to encourage conversations staff rarely, if ever, have time for.

IHF Seed Grant programme
IHF’s Seed Grant programme piloted in early 2021, with initial support from the Creative Ireland Programme, to encourage creative exploration through micro-financing and mentorship. To date, 61 projects have been supported with micro grants, expertise, and resources enabling communities of place or interest to develop their own tools or articulate their needs.

This round of Seed Grants is run in conjunction with Caru, a continuous learning programme for care and compassion at end of life in nursing homes, developed by IHF in partnership with the All-Ireland Institute of Hospice and Palliative Care and the HSE. In addition to financial support, the Caru and IHF Arts and Cultural Engagement teams will provide bespoke mentoring to the awardees and residential care settings.

The ambition with this year’s Seed Grant funded projects is to further develop IHF’s understanding of what creativity offers people in a residential care setting. In parallel, how to best support artists, what best practice is, and how to work in care systems all in support of ‘a good death’.

Learn more at: Arts and Cultural Engagement at Irish Hospice Foundation


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