Creating collaborative poetry with care home residents taps into memories and experience.
Here's a poem by Gina, Kay, Iris, Queenie and Joan at Victoria House from a Spring 2019 creative writing session led by IA practitioner Jason Watts:
“Spring, sweet spring”,
Springtime is a light time,
The beginning of better things,
A time of expectancy
Of lovely song,
Blackbird and robin,
Run, rabbit, run.
The tree stands outside my window,
Each day I watch it grow,
Now it is in full leaf,
“A young man’s fancy lightly turns to thoughts of love”
While sat content beneath.
I look forward and I remember
My own children all now grown,
Three were born in springtime, they were happier,
Like all the little lambs and chick chick chickens
Laying little eggs for me,
In this bright time of expectancy.
Our creative writing practitioners work with residential homes to create prose and poetry by residents that is displayed in panels in the home for all to enjoy.
Henry Bear visits care homes on the Isle of Wight with creative writing practitioner Ann Emery, with wonderful results. Ann explains how the idea for these inspiring sessions came about:
"I first met Henry Bear in a charity shop, forlorn on the top shelf, a fading ‘REDUCED’ tag pinned on his red tie. Perhaps it was his plumpness, or that thoughtful, slightly sad look, that had made him so unwanted.
He looked like a bear in need of a friend. So I bought him and took him to meet my mother, living in a care home for people with dementia.
‘Well, who's a splendid fellow then?’ she said, eyes lighting up and giving Henry a friendly hug. After that, he often visited and they became firm friends accompanying us on our various trips out.
Other residents also took to Henry. He could often calm and comfort people having a difficult moment, bring back memories, spark conversations, help tell old stories – and make new ones.
I had studied Creative Arts for People with Dementia at Stirling University and wondered – could Henry help other people living in care homes create new stories? I knew from the US based ‘Timeslips' programme that new and creative stories could be written by people living with dementia; could we do this using Henry Bear?
Independent Arts arranged for Henry Bear and I to visit a number of residential homes on the Isle of Wight interested in participating in this new endeavour.
For me, it has been such a joy to meet so many engaging and enthusiastic people, so keen to create a Henry Bear story. For most, it was their first time at trying creative writing but all were undeterred! People contributed through words, actions, looks or song. The stories they created are wonderful, often exotic, always imaginative, fun, sometimes sad and with unexpected twists. As the project evolved, we also created poetry, enabling a different form of writing and self-expression.
Creative writing is an intensely interdependent act. As Henry would say, it’s like baking a cake: take a handful of the known, stir in some current happenings, sprinkle liberally with imagination, mix well and bake carefully.
We hope you enjoy the results created for you with so much playful imagination by the residents – and of course, Henry Bear."
‘Connect through writing’
To read some of Henry Bear's adventures by residents of care homes on the Isle of Wight, follow the links below.
Henry Bear enjoyed a picnic with Dover Park Primary pupils and residents of Cornelia Heights.
Read more about Henry Bear's visit to Cornelia Heights and Dover Park Primary School in Island Echo.
Find out about our sessions for young writers aged 16-24 here.
For more information, please
Independent Arts brought the generations together through creative writing, reminiscence, art and a picnic! This delightful work by Dover Park Primary School pupils and residents of Cornelia Heights care home in Ryde is now on display in the conservatory at the care home for residents and their families to enjoy. Find out more.