Artists enable care home residents to voice their experiences of the pandemic

A group of artists are working with Age Cymru to hold conversations with care home residents across Wales as part of a project to explore and capture how this group of older people experienced the pandemic.

The project, called Tell Me More, encourages residents to talk about what it was like to live in a care home during lockdown.  Of course, for lots of older people it was a torrid time as many residents and care staff became seriously ill or even died through Covid 19.

Up until now, residents have had little opportunity to voice their experiences of the pandemic. Age Cymru worked with the artists to make contact with residents through Zoom and used open conversations to gather the residents’ thoughts, wishes and experiences.

As the conversations were taking place, the artists sketched a portrait of the resident and sent it to them as a thank you in recognition of their participation. The artists then applied animation software to the sketches and the recorded conversations to produce a unique and creative method of capturing residents’ voices.

So far residents from homes in Anglesey, Fishguard, Mold, Porthcawl, and Port Talbot have taken part in Tell Me More. With funding from the Welsh Government, Age Cymru will take the project to more care homes across Wales so it can capture the voices of more than 100 residents by December 2021.

Age Cymru’s chief executive, Victoria Lloyd says: “During the height of the pandemic, care home residents experienced some of the strictest lockdown conditions in Wales. Most residents were unable to receive visits from family and friends and, at the same time, they were unable to do any of their usual activities or visits. It was even more difficult for those residents who were transferred directly from hospital to the care home as not only were they cut off from their family and friends but they had little opportunity to socialise and get to know existing residents.

“It is crucial that we hear the experiences of residents and understand how they have felt over the last year.  It is also wonderful to hear those experiences not just in peoples’ own words, but with the recordings, in their own voices too.

“Remarkably, some of the residents said their biggest concern was not being able to reassure their loved ones living outside of the care home. While others touched upon missing quite simple things such as going to the cinema, eating an ice cream at the sea-side or going to church.

“Tell Me More has given us a remarkable insight into how care home residents experienced lockdown and we look forward to hearing more of their voices in the months ahead.”

Deputy Minister for Social Services, Julie Morgan said: “Care Home residents have been some of the most affected by the pandemic. After being isolated from family and friends, it is fantastic that we have been able to fund a project which gives care homes residents a voice and brings their experience to life. It is vital we hear these stories as we look to move forward and recover from the pandemic.”

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