Art & reminiscence work with dementia patients

Last Autumn, it was my pleasure to research and evaluate the contribution that structured Art & Reminiscence activity can provide to the daily life and care of dementia patients in residential homes.

The full report can be downloaded here: Arts and Reminiscence in Wychavon Care Homes report 2016-02-15

2015-11-23  Bricklehampton 2
Commissioned by Museums Worcestershire and Wychavon District Council Arts Development Officer, the creative and reminiscence activities took place over 5 weeks in 6 different residential care homes across the Wychavon area.  The activity was intended as a pilot – although both organisations have carried out one-off activities in care homes over the last few years, this was their first concerted attempt at providing more in-depth and structured activity over a period of weeks.

 

The work was very challenging, given the participants’ varied capacity to take part.  In some homes, the groups sizes were comparatively small (up to 6 participants) making it easier for the facilitators to focus on each individual and encourage them to take part.  In other homes, large group sizes or the profound state of some participants’ dementia made it far more difficult to make a meaningful connection.  However, as the sessions ran over a series of weeks, the facilitators were able both to build a relationship with the more able participants, and to make slow roads toward connection with the more profoundly disabled residents.

Both facilitators spoke of the work as being emotionally laborious, but also of the rewards they felt they had received when a silent participant suddenly smiled in recognition, or reached for a handshake before leaving.

The evaluation methodology is one that I used in 2013 on the Memories in the Making work for Wolverhampton Art Gallery, and is based upon the Warwick Edinburgh Mental Wellbeing Scale (WEMBWS) and Dementia Mapping techniques.  This Worcestershire project enabled me to test the methodology further and to continue to build upon my experience and knowledge in this rewarding field.

 

 

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New report published: MEDIEVAL ABBERLEY REVEALED

Researching and writing evaluation reports is fascinating and enjoyable part of my work.  It is a privilege to be able to follow project teams and volunteers as they deliver complex community activity and then to be able to reflect back to them the impact their work has had.

Excavating for Abberley Castle. An added bonus of evaluating the Medieval Abberley Revealed project!

Excavating for Abberley Castle. An added bonus of evaluating the Medieval Abberley Revealed project!

This week, I finished work on the evaluation report for MEDIEVAL ABBERLEY REVEALED, an HLF-funded Medieval Abberley Revealed community archaeology project which took place over 12 months, and built upon the enthusiasm for local history sparked by the popular Abberley Lives 20th century history project of 2012-2013.

Participation levels on this project were really high, with over 13% of the village either volunteering or attending an event.  The social and well-being outcomes were very strong – even long-time residents expressed how much they had enjoyed meeting new neighbours and volunteering with friends.

The activities seemed to generate a genuine sense of occasion, drawing volunteers aged from 9 to 90 years.  As a local resident and member of the AHPS said later:

‘We joined Abberley Hills Preservation Society but it went dormant for a while.  This activity has revived it all and we have met a lot of people we had never met before. It’s brought us together to fight against [the proposed] houses.  I would absolutely do it again.’

This was the first project evaluation where I was able to use multi-media sources to provide evidence of activity.  Several of the participants have very active social media feeds, so I was able to collate real-time responses during activity and save them using Storify.  I also trained project volunteers to be able to blog so that they could encourage each other to share their reflections online via the Abberley Lives website.

Furthermore, with the advice and assistance of Clear Picture Productions, I have also recorded and edited my first short films for the project website that capture the excitement and curiosity generated during live events.

Thanks very much to Abberley Hills Preservation Society for hiring me to do this lovely piece of work, and for giving me the chance to explore new means of gathering evidence.

Download the report: Medieval Abberley Revealed evaluation

Because you’re worth it!

heritagetourismhlfThe updated Economic Impact Toolkit: West Mids DIY version is here

In a time of financial uncertainty and the ‘downgrading’ of the value of culture, we all need to be able to say with certainty why we are ‘worth it’.

West Midlands Museum Development Officers (WMids MDOs) led the first region-wide survey in 2012 and commissioned me to crunch up the data and see how we had all done.

18 museums replied and demonstrated that in 2011-2012, they contributed over £59 million to the tourism economy. Over Christmas this year WMids MDOs did a quick numbers version, 88 sites responded and showed that museum contribute over £208 millions to the economy in 2012-2013!

Now AIM (Association of Independent Museums) has updated their formulae using government GreenBook statistics.  The WMids MDOs have commissioned me to translate the revised formulae for the West Mids into the attached spreadsheets so that all you need to do is put in the raw numbers, letting Excel do the rest!

With just 4 sets of numbers you will be able to calculate your  impact both regionally and in your local area on:

  • local tourism income
  • local employment figures
  • the economic impact of your expenditure on goods  services in the local area
  • the value of the effort contributed by your volunteers

You are free to use these spreadsheets at ANY time, for your own use…. 

However, as a BIG FAVOUR, I would ask that as many of you as possible complete the relevant spreadsheet by April 18th and send it to back to me.  I shall be collating it all in order to create printed pieces of advocacy for the region and each county …don’t let your impact be left out .

The spreadsheet should be self explanatory, please try to fill in all sheets, save it and send it it me by email.  It has been designed with museums in mind, but there is no real reason why archive or built heritage organisations should not use it.

If you are a large museum, with 50,000  visitors per annum, please use this worksheet: CALCULATE YOUR IMPACT_LARGE museums toolkit_2014_FINAL

If you are a small or medium size museum, with fewer than 49,999 visitors per annum, please use this worksheet: CALCULATE YOUR IMPACT_SMALL-MEDIUM museums toolkit_2014_FINAL

I know this will be a really valuable tool for you all – if you have any queries please contact me.