Short-term artist residency: Bandrum Nursing Home

In early 2019 Luminate collaborated with Bandrum Nursing Home, Dunfermline, and with artist Fiona Hermse to try some new approaches to an artist project in a care home. 

Participants in the Bandrum Pilot project take part in a creative activity

I think the residency worked well because there was time, she had the time. If she came in for an hour some of them wouldn’t have engaged and she wouldn’t have achieved a tenth of this. It has been a success and increased our confidence in engaging with creative work

care home staff member

Full day visits 

Generally artists working in care homes tend to lead group activities at a fixed time of day.  We wanted to see what difference it would make if an artist stayed longer.  So instead of arriving to lead a group workshop and leaving fairly quickly afterwards, Fiona spent a full day in the home each week for nine weeks.   

During each day she led at least one group activity, and the rest oher time was not structured.  Fiona was able to chat to people informally, finding out about people’s backgrounds and interests.  She designed short, individual activities for people, and often worked in quite visible locations so people could approach her on their own terms.  Her work fitted around the routine of the home and the personal interests of the residents. 

How we prepared 

An unusual feature of this project was that Fiona spent two full days in the home before she started to work with residents.  During these two days she learned about Bandrum’s routines, spent time with some of the staff, and led a couple of short creative activities with staff groups so they could understand more about her work before the project began.   

It was really great getting to know people and their backgrounds and tap into that... It made a really huge difference in what I felt I could achieve, meaning more interaction and stimulation with the residents

Fiona Hermse, Artist

What we learned 

The full-day visits made this project particularly successful.  Fiona was able to tailor the activities to the interests of the residents she was collaborating with, because she was able to get to know them quite well.    Because Fiona was also able to get to know quite a lot of the staff, we found that many of them became involved in the activities too.  This created a “community” atmosphere which was fun for everyone, and strengthened the bonds between staff and residents.  

Staff and family members told us that residents were “relaxed and focused” during the activities, and “uplifted” afterwards. In the dementia unit in particular, the art activities prompted more smiling and conversation than usual. 

Fiona was asked by Bandrum Nursing Home to continue working with them for a few months after the Luminate pilot ended.