Ruth Purdy is a visual artist, who set up a community arts company in Cornwall. In 2018 she joined with Astor Court and Devonpart extra care schemes and Nazareth House; part of a retirement village to create three Fun Palaces in one weekend. Working alongside a team of makers, they invited local communities to visit their Fun Palace in their local care home. Below she shares her experiences of Fun Palaces in Care Homes.
One of the Fun Palaces was almost like a market, and everyone had a different stall, with a different thing happening at it. We had marbling, mindful drawing activities, karaoke, people could decorate a pot with a plant in it. There was a focus on positivity; we made a tree and people could put positive messages on the leaves. We served Pimms and mocktails and had an organ grinder come in and demonstrate his instrument. We also did snail racing, which was brilliant; the care home that had this was run by nuns, and they went out in to the gardens to find all of the snails. Children would just wander in from the local park, it was great to see intergenerational connection happening.
The key for us was to set aside some time and run some sessions building up to it, so people could practise facilitating their activity.
“It was led by the residents, but with some help and support from us, especially around the practicalities of it. “
The week before the Fun Palaces we invited schools to the two care homes; we ran a wind chime making session at Astor court and a zentangle workshop at Devonport.
The residents helped the primary school kids; a practise run. At the weekend, the children returned with their families.
One of the Fun Palaces was in a retirement village, and although we didn’t have any outside visitors, there were a lot of people on site, both staff and residents, who all joined in.
I actually think retirement villages can be great locations for Fun Palaces and would really benefit from this; there’s so much knowledge there.
There was a sense of positivity from the Makers, because they were really able to take ownership of it. They were delighted when local kids came in, people were very supportive. The Fun Palace built a bridge between the residents, staff and their local community and following the Fun Palace the residents kept talking about how wonderful the kids and their families were. Socialising while learning was really important, and lots of people took part in things they wouldn’t normally get involved with.