2.2 Opportunities for creativity and personal development
Hubbard et al. (2003) identify that within institutional care settings, social relationships among older people are important for supporting residents. They note that older people with the most severe disabilities, and those for whom communication is most difficult as a result of sensory or cognitive impairments, are particularly likely to experience social and emotional isolation in care settings. Within care homes, strategies for establishing and sustaining relationships among residents and staff are often created through the use of groupwork.
Many care homes have residents who experience dementia, and therapeutic groupwork, such as reminiscence work, may help. Reminiscence work with groups of people with similar or related experiences provides a way of helping people to come to terms with their feelings. Schweitzer (2004) suggested that for older people from minority ethnic groups, it can help to create a ‘community of experience’ with others who have made similar life journeys, enabling them to understand their lives within a broader historical and social context. However, care workers need to be sensitive to the fact that it may be too distressing for some people.
At Drummond Grange a number of group activities are timetabled each week, such as the Newspaper group and the Art group. These provide opportunities for people to express their creativity. Making provision for people to pursue individual interests creates opportunities for development and growth in later life. Bradley and Specht's (1999) research found six features of successful ageing:
having a sense of purpose
interaction with others
opportunities for personal growth
Bradley and Specht's respondents identified a relationship between creativity and successful ageing. Creativity was perceived as helping individuals to stay engaged and feel good about themselves. Creativity can be expressed in a variety of ways, such as singing, cooking, gardening, crafts, reading and writing. The value of retaining and developing interests within a care setting was stressed by the three residents interviewed at Drummond Grange: Eric enjoys the creative experience of writing; Elizabeth derives great pleasure from maintaining the peace garden; Bill enjoys the challenge of using his computing skills to create various kinds of documents.