This year’s Christmas present for the Baring Foundation’s Arts and Older People programme has come in the rather unusual but very welcome form of NICE Guidance Number 32 – Older People: Independence and Mental Well Being www.nice.org.uk/guidance/NG32
The Guidance from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence is a very significant step forward. It is unambiguous in advocating the benefits of the arts for the independence and mental well-being of older people.
‘1.2 Group-based activities
1.2.1 Provide a range of group activities, including multi-component activities combining one or more of the following:
- Singing programmes, in particular, those involving a professionally-led community choir.
- Arts and crafts and other creative activities.’
This represents a tremendous vindication of the many artists who have been working with older people in recent years and the lengths they have gone to prove beyond doubt what we will all know, that the arts give satisfaction and purpose to anyone’s life and at any age.
A couple of years ago we wrote a report pointing out the specific contribution that the arts can make in combating loneliness among older people http://baringfoundation.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/Loneliness.pdf. Although this and the NICE guidance refer to older people in the community (it is guidance under the Institute’s Public Health category), exactly the same points can be made about older people in residential care. After all, care residents can feel more or less independent in residential care and certainly their morale can be positively effected by the arts . Indeed the Foundation has specifically funded an initiative for choirs in care homes https://achoirineverycarehome.wordpress.com.
So our collective New Year’s Resolution should be to shout about the Guidance from the roof tops and develop a way to monitor their take-up.
David Cutler, Director
Views expressed in this post do not necessarily reflect those of the Baring Foundation