Harrogate care home harnesses power of storytelling

A care home in Harrogate is harnessing the power of a writing discussion group to break down feelings of isolation among residents.

A care home in Harrogate is harnessing the power of a writing discussion group to break down feelings of isolation among residents.

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A Harrogate care home is harnessing the power of storytelling while caring for residents.

Harrogate Neighbours Housing Association (HNHA) has enlisted the help of former nurse Carmel Flynn to establish a creative writing discussion group for residents at Heath Lodge residential home on Pannal Ash Road.

Many residents feel an element of isolation when they move to a care home, particularly if they’re recovering from illnesses that knocked their confidence.

Carmel Flynn

By generating discussions based on a specific theme, the residents help Carmel create ideas, often drawing on their past experiences, which she translates into a piece of poetry. The poems are then presented at workshops.

According to Carmel, an English graduate who runs The Wellbeing Solution offering therapies based around creative writing, dance and music, such groups can be valuable in a care home setting.

She said: “Many residents feel an element of isolation when they move to a care home, particularly if they’re recovering from illnesses that knocked their confidence.

“By encouraging them to open up and share ideas, they regain an awareness of the importance of their own lives and recognise just how relevant the past still is today.”

HNHA chief executive Sue Cawthray added: “We’ve certainly noticed a difference among our residents. There was a certain amount of shyness when the discussion group first began, but now the room becomes a vibrant hub of animated conversation and laughter which is fantastic.

“One of our ladies had suffered a series of strokes and was finding it difficult to speak but through the encouragement of others she is now more engaged and her speech is improving as a result of having her confidence boosted.”