In January, our Bright Care carer, Alison, was given the opportunity to speak at a private viewing of an art exhibition in memory of her late client, Mrs Parker. The event was hosted by Mrs Parker’s daughter, and was an opportunity to showcase her mother’s collection of art and calligraphy, much of which had been created alongside – and with support from – Alison.
Here, you can read Alison’s full speech:
“Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen,
My name is Alison, and through my work with Bright Care, I had the privilege to work with and care for Mrs Parker in the last year of her life, meeting her in the summer of 2016.
She was a lovely, quiet lady with a hidden sense of humour and during our time together making art, we both had plenty of laughs along the way.
When she was in better health, Mrs Parker had been very interested in art as was a keen amateur watercolour painter, and, as you can see, an excellent calligrapher.
This, as well as her love of classical music, gave me the idea to work with her in this special way, as sadly, her health problems meant that she could no longer enjoy these activities.
I have many years of experience working with art materials, my back ground is in textiles and I also did an MSc in Art Therapy. I learnt much from this, but in the end decided that it was not the right road for me. However, it has enabled me to work with Bright Care clients, who do not need therapy, but who can benefit from being stimulated by their old hobbies or interests in making things.
My years of doing art activities with profoundly disabled adults has also helped me when it comes to finding the right kind of activity for my clients.
With Mrs Parker, it started with colouring postcards with felt tip pens. In the beginning she was able to do this very accurately, and she enjoyed seeing them displayed on her mantelpiece.
Our next project was a memory book. In this we would paste photographs and mementos of trips to art galleries, or the opticians – memories of the days out we spent together.
These, I would develop by writing in colourful pens and going back over it with her. It was lovely to see her surprise as she read back over the entries – “I did that?” – and she would experience the pleasure of the event all over again.
The memory book was like a journal of Mrs Parker’s last activities. It leaves fond memories for me now, and while it was being made, provided her daughter Helen with useful feedback on her mother from week to week.
As Mrs Parker’s sight deteriorated, we did larger artwork on rolls of wallpaper. This was great fun for us both and allowed freer movements with brushes, rollers and sponges. Some of these creations were added to the memory book. The main thing was to have fun through art.
This was important to Mrs Parker as it reminded her of the kinds of things she used to do, but in a different way. Even just holding the brushes seemed to have a beneficial effect on her mood, giving her a sense of achievement.
This kind of guided art is not about making art, or painting. Rather, it is about giving the client the opportunity to explore, bringing the best of the person back into the present. It is a way that I have been able to reach out to those with great needs, and who are finding their condition difficult, or who feel lost in their dementia or disability.
I would like to thank Helen, Mrs Parker’s daughter and Bright Care, for asking me to speak with you all this afternoon and for giving me the lovely opportunity to be able to use my skills and experience to care for, and be a companion to, her mother. It meant a lot to me and I miss it.
So, if anyone here has a family member who they feel might benefit from this kind of care and companionship, they should not hesitate to contact Bright Care.