There are over 400,000 older people living in residential care in the UK, 80% of these people are living with a form of dementia or severe memory problems.
Alive is the epitome of person-centred care, with the presenters skilfully blending a variety of techniques to recognise each individual as a unique and valued human being. In addition to providing the opportunity to engage in a stimulating reminiscence session, Alive! sessions empower individual residents to connect with one another creating a sense of belonging and purpose to their day. National Wellbeing & Activity Manager, Bupa Care Services.
I don’t know how we managed before Alive. I’m just trying to think – what did we do? Care home manager
We hear it a lot in our feedback from care staff, that the room is a different place when we leave. That people come alive, they do literally come back, they’re upright, they’re smiling, they’re chatting, they’re laughing [...] their whole demeanour shifts and that happens again and again and again and it’s just an amazing thing to be able to do. Alive Presenter
Just today at the end of my Biodanza session in Lymington, a lovely 92 year old lady called Joan took my hands in hers, looked me in the eyes and, with tears streaming down her face, said “...thank you so much for today... my heart feels so opened by this"... thank you. Alive Regional Manager
We love activity like this because it keeps us young at heart and if you are young at heart you feel younger than your 90 years. Resident
Some of our key achievements in 2015:
- 7,700 older people in 385 care settings experienced improved mental health and emotional wellbeing and connected with others through participating in our activity sessions
- 500 staff from 300 care settings improved their ability to meet older people’s emotional, intellectual and social needs through our training, skills development and peer support
- 12 care homes developed better links with local primary schools through our intergenerational projects, benefiting 70 older people
Our work has been independently evaluated by Willis Newson and Professor Norma Daykin from University of West of England using the ArtsObs tool. This tool is cited by Public Health England and Professor Daykin is a Project Partner in PHE’s new guidance on evaluating arts projects and programmes that seek to improve health and wellbeing.
The Willis Newson report states: “There is evidence that creative engagement has positive effects on general health, medication use, cognitive functioning, levels of anxiety and depression, mental wellbeing and some specific physical functions for older people within care homes (see, for example, Cohen, 2006 and 2007).”
"This evaluation suggests that Alive activities impact positively on the mental and emotional wellbeing of those who participate. The workshops provide enjoyable activity, enabling social connections between residents and staff within the care settings, and giving participants opportunities to demonstrate skills, knowledge and to experience a sense of pride and achievement. Activities are observed to provide a ‘lift’ to the physical and mental energy levels of the older people who take part."
"Alive is valued by care managers and staff for the impact it has upon individuals in their care and for the sensitivity it displays towards them."
We are now working with Willis Newson to design a new evaluation framework that will improve the way we measure progress towards achieving our intended outcomes and the impact of our work. The new framework is currently being piloted with a view to having a year’s worth of data to draw on by November 2016. Watch the evaluation film below and,
Why activities matter
The 2013 NICE Report 'Dementia: independence and wellbeing' stated that "It is important that people with dementia can take part in leisure activities during their day that are meaningful to them. People have different interests and preferences about how they wish to spend their time. People with dementia are no exception but increasingly need the support of others to participate. Understanding this and how to enable people with dementia to take part in leisure activities can help maintain and improve quality of life."
By running meaningful and stimulating activities in care settings residents are given a sense of purpose, which is crucial for health and wellbeing. People living with dementia are no exception to this, and care providers have an important role to play in identifying opportunities and supporting individuals to become involved.
In our last care home survey: Longer term impact:
100% were happy with the Alive sessions in their care home or day centre 63% of homes said that residents talk to each other more
95% of homes reported that residents responded to Alive sessions with improved mood 63% said the sessions help staff to get to know residents better
88% said their residents had more energy 82% said their residents have more to talk about with visitors
88% said their residents were more engaged 63% said residents communicate more effectively with care staff
72% said they interacted more with others as a result 93% said their residents are generally more positive as a result of having Alive in the home
Influence and advocacy
We advocate for improved quality of life for older people in care homes, working with partners in the voluntary, public, private and academic sectors to raise awareness and change attitudes.
Some of our key achievements include:
- Working in partnership with RSVP and Bristol City Council, to deliver a project targeting three care homes identified as needing improvement in their activity provision by RSVP Lay Assessors.
- Producing two Best Practice Guides for Bristol City Council– one aimed at care home managers and the other targeting care home staff.
- Working with Bristol City Council to define quality of life standards for their new care home service specification and helped to rewrite the new specification.
- Being elected to the Bristol Older People's Partnership Board which looks at all issues affecting older people throughout the city
- Advising and providing feedback to SCIE (social care institute for excellence) on new guidance notes designed to get more people living with dementia in care engaged with new technology and the internet