Culture Box is an 18 month, pandemic responsive research project funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council.
The project responds to the severe negative impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on care homes and care home residents living with dementia. It also builds on a growing body of evidence related to the positive impacts of art and creativity for people with dementia. These include improved mood and attention and enhanced communication between people with dementia, their carers, and family supporters.
The aims of the project are to alleviate social isolation and loneliness for people with dementia in care homes, to provide stimulating activities that can be shared by staff and residents, and to supply information about the pandemic suitable for those with dementia. The project works with care homes across diverse locations, particularly those in areas of social deprivation or where people from Black and Asian communities reside.
The project co-designs, produces and delivers Culture Boxes, delivered by post and digitally once a week for 12 months. The Boxes contain a range of creative materials and public health guidance, suitable for people with dementia for use in pairs or as a group activity. A typical Culture Box may contain a selection of the following example activities:
- an artist representation of a tree from different parts of the globe with a colouring activity and information about that tree and its significance to individuals from different cultures
- a link to BBC Music Memories website with questions designed to help listeners engage with and discuss the musical selections.
- A poetry activity, Box of Smiles, designed by our collaborator Ronald Amanze. This supports participants to write a poem which can be set to music by Ronald if sent back the project team.
- A watercolour set with a visual art activity set prepared by collaborators Pitzhanger Manor Gallery and Museum
NAPA is one of our study partners. Working with NAPA has been essential to the project as they have supported us in a number of ways. Firstly, reaching and helping to recruit activity coordinators across England, enabling us to engage with a wide and diverse range of care homes. Secondly, keeping NAPA members engaged with the project via social media and the NAPA newsletter, and thirdly, supporting participants by offering additional training to build confidence in use of the Culture Box materials. Finally, NAPA will host an archive of all materials developed during the project. These will be made freely available via the NAPA website.
NAPA have been a fantastic partner on Culture Box. Their expertise and commitment to arts, health and wellbeing in care homes has made a huge contribution to the success of the project and I look forward to working with them again in future.
You can find out more about Culture Box on our website https://www.cultureboxstudy.org and by following us on social media @CultureBox (Twitter), @cultureboxstudy (Instagram) and @CultureBox (Facebook)