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02nd September 2016

Creativity as We Age

The benefits of art and practical creativity are well known: a sense of achievement and enabling self-expression, social interaction and recognition and overall improved well-being.

There are many organisations in Scotland which promote the creative arts for older people. There is a month long festival each October, organised by the voluntary organisation Luminate. which celebrates creativity in later life.

Other organisations include:

Help to begin

A resource pack has recently been made available by a partnership between the Care Inspectorate, Luminate and Creative Scotland. The pack includes a rich list of resources to various services and resources to foster art activities.

Art opportunities and outlets are only limited by our imagination: dancing, singing, gardening, poetry, pottery, cooking, writing, making chocolate... Many of these are easily available to older people, or can be tailored to their wishes and ability.


There can be remarkable outcomes of this sort of work. In a service I worked in a resident was delighted to receive piano lessons, and to play to an acceptable standard. This had been the person's ambition for some years. Another care home was able to overcome pseudo-objections about insurance and health and safety to enable people to engage in creative cookery. People were delighted to be able to exercise their long standing skills. It made me think of the loss experience when people's activities are restricted, albeit well intentioned, just because they are cared for.

In other services, the work of people using the service was hung and displayed throughout the building, and was a source of pride to everyone. The effect was very impressive, it lent a personalisation and ownership, as well as a different image of people living and working there.

Community involvement and social history are among other directions which creativity as we age can pursue. They are both therapeutic and socially useful. Older people can see that they make a useful and meaningful contribution to society, and their self-esteem is raised as their achievements are recognised by themselves and others.

Let's go!

The benefits of doing art are clear, so I think it should be a vital element in all kinds of care, dementia, home care and care homes. Excuse me now, I have painting I need to work on...


*All information is correct at the time of publishing. Use of this material is subject to your acceptance of our terms and conditions.

Tony Clarke

Scottish Care Inspectorate Specialist

Tony began care work as a care assistant in care of the elderly here in Scotland in the 1970s. He very much enjoyed promoting activities, interests and good basic care. After a gap to gain a social work qualification, he worked in management of care services, latterly as a peripatetic manager which gave him experience of a wide range of services.

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