Virtual art club starts a new conversation

29 Jun 2020

They say a picture’s worth a thousand words. So when lockdown stopped family visiting our carehome resident Beryl, art offered them a different way to communicate.

Beryl, who lives at our Baycroft Flitwick scheme and has advanced dementia, had not seen her daughter Wendy since the day before the country went into lockdown. They tried chatting on Skype, but it proved challenging for Beryl to maintain any conversation.

Wendy tried showing her mother some of her lockdown paintings, which seemed to spark some interest, and recommended that she tune in to Grayson’s Art Club, the Channel 4 series that has been stirring the nation’s creativity during the coronavirus crisis.

But our activities coordinator Lucy Lawrence had a better idea. She arranged virtual art club sessions where Wendy and Beryl could spend an hour together online, painting a picture to a set theme. They chose flowers and painted daisies, poppies, buttercups, sunflowers and forget-me-nots over the weeks.

Focused and engaged

Artistically, the results were impressive. More importantly, the club provided joy and stimulation for Beryl.

“During the hour, she is totally focused, engaged, absorbed,” explains Wendy. “We talk about what we’re doing, the colours we’re choosing, how we’re applying the paint. She has a conversation with me and is clearly proud of her achievement.”

All the while, Lucy is by Beryl’s side, ensuring the technology works smoothly, keeping the equipment to hand and encouraging every effort.

Caring Hero

It’s one of a number of ideas Lucy has put into play to entertain and engage residents during lockdown. They have also enjoyed a Mamma Mia cinema morning (complete with tickets and interval popcorn), a VE Day 75th anniversary party and 99s all round when Lucy arranged for the local ice-cream van to drop by one sunny day.

Her efforts haven’t gone unnoticed. She’s been nominated as one of the Care Campaign for the Vulnerable’s Caring Heroes.

As Wendy puts it: “Lucy has gone the extra mile to ensure my mother, who is bed-bound, is kept mentally stimulated during the carehome lockdown and while family can’t visit. She’s an absolute angel.”