National Day of Arts in Care Homes 2023

NAPA celebrated the fifth National Day of Arts in Care Homes in September 2023 by highlighting different aspects of arts in care provision in the run-up to the day itself. Over 100 care homes registered details of their own arts events and many more took part in online NAPA online events and shared posts on social media.

We were delighted by the response to this year’s Reflections theme and to our creative challenge with Drawing Life, Drawing on Memories. Care home activities and projects included the launch of a care home album of songs by residents, staff and relatives (Bupa), a newspaper with reflections on Covid (Anchor) and a week of arts activities chosen by residents, highlighting reflections in nature and thoughts on life (ExcelCare). This year, for the first time, we are awarding prizes for registered events for the National Day – NAPA will announce the winners in November. 

Additional projects

Throughout 2023, we have been working on three additional projects, funded by The Baring Foundation: a survey on care and arts partnership projects, an investigation into the need for some kind of arts badge for care homes doing significant related work and a guide to developing arts in care homes which has been produced with three managers doing innovative work in this field. The manager’s guide will be launched in November and findings from the other two pieces of work will feed into NAPA’s future work.

Future plans

We had the final meeting of of this current five year Arts in Care Homes (AICH) programme with our advisory group, which consists of managers, care staff, Activity Providers, artists, arts and cultural organisations and people with lived experience of dementia. We asked attendees for feedback on the programme, the National Day and their suggestions for future work. The unanimous view was that the National Day of Arts in Care Homes is a successful way of motivating and involving care homes, resulting in increased creative engagement opportunities for residents and staff and helping to highlight the importance of this work. NAPA trustee Suzy Cooper felt that “we are just getting started” with this work and mentioned that this year far more members of care staff got involved in planning and delivering arts activities in the Porthaven care homes she works with. 

Alison Teader, AICH Programme Director will be doing a presentation sharing learning from the five years at The Dementia Congress in November. Members of the Dementia Craftivists will also take part, sharing their thoughts about the online project NAPA did with Innovations in Dementia during Covid. NAPA is planning to hold a reception in March 2024, organised with Art Explora, to celebrate the first five years of AICH, during which we will announce our future plans for the programme. 

Tony Husband

NAPA was very shocked to hear the sad news about the artist Tony Husband who passed away on 18 October, aged 73. He was on his way to a goodbye party for a colleague at Private Eye, being held on a barge in London, when he suffered a heart attack on Westminster Bridge. Tony was an award winning cartoonist and political satirist, known for his work with Private Eye magazine.  In recent years, the Blackpool-born illustrator became heavily involved with Exeter Dementia Action Alliance (EDAA). The alliance’s founder and lead Gina Awad says she first met him after he led a moving talk at Exeter Phoenix in 2016 about his book ‘Take Care, Son: The Story of My Dad and his Dementia’. As the title would suggest, the book tells the story of Tony’s father’s experience with dementia.

Tony’s beautiful, funny and insightful cartoons about dementia were a source of comfort and joy to many people – a most powerful example of art’s ability to convey complicated messages in an immediate and profound way. Tony was kind enough to support NAPA’s AICH programme, drawing two cartoons to help us promote The National Day. The above image challenges preconceptions of people in care homes, reminding us that there are no age limits to arts and creativity. The image below was a one of Tony’s happy memories, shared for our Drawing On Memories creative challenge.


Thank you to Tony and to everyone that has contributed to and supported the AICH programme over the last five years, during a most challenging for the care sector and helped us to highlight the importance of arts in care provision. We greatly appreciate the sharing and sending of related social media posts and the creativity and hard work that has gone into the planning of arts events in care settings for The National Day of Arts in Care Homes by care settings and arts partners. Please put 24 September 2024 in your diary, look out for future NAPA updates and keep on enjoying being creative together!