Cultural project Vespertine has been helping evolve creativity in York care homes thanks to support from Benenden Health.
Vespertine, a creative production team overseen by York Archaeological Trust, was awarded funding as part of Benenden Health’s commitment to giving back to their community. They have been working with care homes and independent living spaces using a mix of film, musicians and 360 Virtual Reality inspired by Holgate Windmill to evoke memories and improve social connections.
One of the participating care homes is Amarna House in Acomb, where the residents are all living with dementia.
Activities Officer Jen Cammidge at Amarna felt it was a great opportunity for their residents to get involved as “many were familiar with Holgate Windmill having grown up in the area. They mostly remembered it as a derelict building so the chance for them to have a supported visit there or explore it through the medium of augmented reality was fantastic”.
The work also included archive film footage of Rowntree Mackintosh chocolate factory which inspired people to share their stories. Residents who were new to the home or were not normally very verbal opened up during this and spoke eloquently about their memories and experiences.
Many of the residents are unable to make new memories due to their dementia so this type of reminiscence and connecting with each other socially where they feel secure and comfortable is important.
Lucy Barker from Vespertine said “We have been delighted with the work we’ve been able to do in care homes thanks to the funding from Benenden. Using 360 VR films watched on specially designed headsets has enabled older people to visit places they might not physically be able to visit. The sessions have been fun and engaging for the participants as well as us as artists.”
Emma Keef, CSR and Engagement co-ordinator at Benenden health, added “Vespertine have an innovative approach to improving social connections as well as boosting mental health and wellbeing through combining digital arts and reminiscence. This fits really well with Benenden Health’s values and we are very proud to support them with a funding award.”
The work from the project and the augmented film of the windmill that Vespertine produced will be showcased as part of the National Care Home Open day on 28th June. Jen from Amarna was really pleased that Benenden Health’s funding has led to this, saying “People don’t expect to see things like that in a care home”.
Vespertine is a cultural production team led by Yvonne Carmichael and Lucy Barker. It’s overseen by York Archaeological Trust. Find out more at www.vespertinevault.com