Songbook of Everyday stories was a six week project with collaborating people who visit Bishops Court Care Home and who experience memory loss/ dementia.
Hank Hayes, and Claire Webster Saaremets from Skimstone Arts Ensemble working with a new group of singers/composers in the care home, with dedicated staff and volunteers, to develop new songs around their chose themes of fruit and the weather.
The aims of the project were to;
- Engage each participant as a participating artist with Skimstone Arts where we promote inclusion, collaboration, ownership and respect.
- Establish and support a stimulating thinking and working environment involving high expectations and aspirations of all involved, including staff and volunteers
- Adopt a professional attitude which includes acceptance and involvement shown towards all members of a group, particularly those struggling with poor self image, confidence/self esteem due to memory loss and associated conditions linked to Dementia
- Develop and reflect upon a collaborative practice e.g. exchange of ideas and expertise, skills and training within challenging arts based thinking to devise and refine lyrics and rehearse specially composed songs
- Encourage flexibility of thinking and working creatively balanced with plan and structure and rituals e.g. performing a specially written song at the start which stimulate memory of who is in the group.
The project involved a group of 8 women who named themselves ‘Whirleybirds Choir,” devising, refining, rehearsing a series of specially composed songs which were then performed to an invited audience.
Hank and Claire used suggested props e.g. plastic macs, sunglasses and bowls of fruit to initiate ideas and performance possibilities.
After the sharing performance,
Linda Swan, staff member said “Yesterday was a real joy! I really hope that we can work together again, it has been so encouraging to see how the ladies confidence and well being has progressed, you have brought some sunshine in to their lives ( and mine! ). We learned ways of stimulating memory through presenting; photos of each session and rituals of props and lyrics coming out of the singing suitcase, the chairs in a similar format ready for rehearsals.
“What made this project so special was the support of Linda and the staff and volunteers, the energy and ideas of each member of the Whirleybirds Choir, the opportunity to try out different rituals to stimulate memory, singing our own songs …and Doris from the Whirleybirds Choir introducing the final performance to the audience.” – Claire and Hank
“It has been a pleasure working with Skimstone Arts on the delivery of the Creative Care project. Your passion and enthusiasm has been infectious leaving lasting change at Bishops Court. The process of everyone doing activities from the outset could have been daunting but actually your willingness to put yourself out there was a great equaliser that created a safe space for people to feel comfortable to try new things and, in the process, challenge what they thought they were capable of. The impact you have had on participants, staff and volunteers is nothing short of transforming. I thank you for the insight and inspiration you gave them to do things differently to provide stimulating care to people in their lunch clubs.” – Helix Arts