National Day of Arts in Care Homes 2020

by roundabout

Thursday 24th September 2020 is National Day of Arts in Care Homes, a day to celebrate the wealth of activities that take place in care homes. This year’s theme is Creative Communities. 

We are proud to be one of Arts in Care Homes Event Partners this year and want to celebrate by sharing an example of one of the activities we use in our dramatherapy sessions. 

We offer dramatherapy sessions to older people in their own home or in residential care. Sessions can be group or individual and are non-judgmental and confidential. 

We use different creative media and techniques in the sessions including: art images, collage work, music and movement, poetry, traditional folk tales, story creating and telling, reminiscence, puppets, props and costume, etc. The dramatherapists plan the session around the themes and issues that are brought to the sessions by group members. Themes that often arise include: loss, change and family relationships. Sometimes strong emotions emerge, including sadness, anger and frustration. At other times and quite frequently, feelings of levity, enjoyment and fun are present in the sessions.

This is an example of one intervention used within a group that has been working together regularly for some months.  Time will be taken and this will be worked with and developed over a number of weeks.

Group members are invited to select a portrait picture they like out of a wide choice of images. The dramatherapist gently elicits conversations through questions about the image and their selection: e.g.

What is it about this picture – why might you have chosen this one?

Who do you think this person might be?

What do you think their name is?

What do you think they are saying/thinking/doing?

What might they do next?

Slowly the character from the image develops and their background story evolves and unfolds. The group members then have the opportunity to recreate their chosen image by dressing up using pieces of costume and material and props. They match the pose in the picture they have selected and a group member (usually with support) or the dramatherapist takes a photo. Group members often ‘come alive’ during this exercise and become more animated, showing their creative and artistic sides.  The group members continue to have an opportunity to ‘become the character’ they have chosen and tell their story. 

Roy Crockford, friend of Roundabout, kindly agreed to be a model to demonstrate this. Using just 3 items we quickly recreated Velázquez’s Portrait of Innocent X (see the images above).

By the end of the sessions the images have been collated within a group book which contains a creative record of the work done week by week. On each double page is a portrait picture on one side and the re-creation photo next to it on the other side. This book of images and new memories remain with the group members, when the sessions have finished. 

We have used this particular method of working in different groups and we have always been amazed by the level of engagement and creative flair and level of support and interaction that the group members have shown and been able to give to one another. Reactions from the group members themselves have often been those of surprise and delight.

If you would like to find out more about dramatherapy and the services Roundabout offers please get in touch with Susan at or take a look at our website for more information about our work with older adults