An evaluation of a two year project by Courtyard Arts and The University, engaging in poetry activities with older people in care homes, concluded that there were a range of positive effects including “enhanced communication, increased self-esteem and enhanced self-worth whilst making [participants] feel less isolated”.
There have been studies into the particular benefits of using poetry in dementia care, the author John Killick being a notable figure in this field.
Read Aloud groups, as developed by The Reader Organisation give residents the chance to read out pieces of prose and poetry in a group and discuss. Participants can share their responses and opinions and can develop their own creative writing.
“You’ve got to read it to get it into your head … thanks for letting us read.”Care Home Resident
Many homes encourage individual residents to develop their own autobiographies and/or use reminiscence as a springboard for discussion and creative activities.
Simply giving people access to words, stories and poetry can be very powerful. Care home residents should have easy access to a pen and paper and should be given the opportunity and encouragement to read and write and have access to books and stories.
Here are some examples of different types of creative writing activities which take place in care homes:
- poetry writing and reading
- Read Aloud groups
- book groups
- audio books
- writing memoirs
- library visits