A project encouraging residents of Care UK’s Forrester Court in Paddington to develop their creativity has drawn poetry from residents who find it difficult to join in group activities.
The Living Words project, run by Westminster Arts, is part of their Resonate programme for people living with dementia. Poet Susanna Howard worked with people who find it difficult to join in group activity to create individual poetry books. Taking time to allow the words to come, and to really listen, Susanna wrote down what she heard and read it back; together, she and the residents shaped the words into a poem.
Forrester Court provides residential, nursing and respite care for older people, including individuals who have Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia. It also offers specialist care for people with young onset dementia. Some people with dementia find it hard to communicate clearly with others, especially in group settings, making Susanna’s work especially valuable.
She, along with musicians, worked with 23 residents on the St James Suite within Forrester Court and also trained 10 members of the care team who were invited to create their own arts projects with residents. Each resident’s book of poems was bound and then poems were read at a celebration event in the home’s gardens. Team members were also presented with certificates.
Paul Humphreys, a director from Care UK who was visiting when one of the poetry sessions was taking place, said: “I found the way in which the Living Words work expressed such deep-seated thoughts in very simple words to be emotionally inspiring. The encouragement to people who do not always find it easy to express themselves is very powerful.”
Manager Beata Brzozowska thanked Susanna and Westminster Arts for their continued involvement in the home and presented Susanna with a bouquet of flowers.
She said: “It has been marvellous for the residents to have Susanna and her colleagues visiting us – the residency has brought music and creativity to people whose worlds can sometimes be limited.
“Susanna’s work here has been inspiring and motivating, drawing out individuals and enhancing hidden communication with residents who speak very little.”
Tom Owen, from My Home Life, said: ““This inspiring story offers yet another example of how care homes across the country are making concerted efforts to actively connect with community organisations to improve the lives of our frailest and oldest citizens. Forrester Court is part of ‘My Home Life London’ – a movement which supports care homes to be great places to live, die, work and visit. We congratulate them on their success.”