Activity cards

Introduction and instructions

cARTrefu activities

Since 2015, our wonderful artists have been working with care homes across Wales and are continuing to do so. By the beginning of our third phase of the programme, which started in September 2019, more than 3,200 residents and care home staff had taken part in cARTrefu sessions.

Our artists have shared their knowledge and experience of delivering creative sessions with residents and have simplified some of the most successful activities to share with you through this platform.

We’d love to hear about your cARTrefu activity sessions. If you would like to share your stories, please tag us on social media or contact

How do I find the right activity? 

There are many different activities to try. We’ve split them over five sections

Visual Arts – Performing Arts – Words – Music – Sensory

Take a look and have a go.

We’ve labelled the activities, so you’ll know if they’re most suited for

An individual or a group

All the activities are easy to do, but some may require a little preparation. We’ve labelled each activity one, two or three; (1, 2 or 3);

One being very easy and three needing a little more time to prepare.

Creating the right space

Creating the right space is important when participating in arts activities.

There are simple things you can do to create the right environment for older residents to feel relaxed and creative:

  • Make sure the TV is switched off
  • Play some relaxing music to create a mood
  • Seat the group in a circle or around a table if needed
  • To begin a session, go around the circle and ask everyone to introduce themselves. It’s important the group gets to know each other
  • Encourage family members and visitors to join in and participate
  • Let residents know they can come and go as they please. No pressure

Leading a creative session

The urge to engage in purposeful and meaningful activity is a basic human drive. As people we’re all different with different needs and interests, the same as residents within care homes.

Creativity is such a broad option for care homes, allowing care workers to offer activities which are varied and innovative, enabling person centred care and meeting the needs of the individuals.

Being creative is a gift that we all have, we just need the right tools to unlock it.

Activities need to be inclusive; residents need to join in, giving opportunities for interaction, conversation and relationships. Building relationships between residents, opening conversation to build these friendships and become part of a community.

These workshops take residents out of themselves allowing them to express themselves, triggering imagination and memories.

Allowing residents to be creative enables them to sustain interests they may have had in the past or develop skills and interests that they may never have known they had.

  • Introduce the session by explaining what you have planned or showing examples
  • Get involved – don’t just teach – make your own artwork
  • Have confidence in yourself, this is supposed to be fun for all
  • Offer assistance where necessary but don’t take over
  • Offer praise and encouragement.

cARTrefu artists top tips

  • Focus on the process and quality of engagement over outcome
  • There’s no need to correct residents if they don’t stick to the plan, just let them be creative
  • Go with the flow, share and work together
  • Don’t rush the activity, just let things happen naturally
  • Don’t focus on the word ‘art’, just enjoy the process and see it as stimulation for all involved
  • Talk with the residents about their hobbies and interests as a starting point for future workshops
  • Take the time to form relationships to find out who the resident really is
  • Focus on who the person is now, not who they used to be. People change when living with Dementia.

Staff top tips

We asked care home staff around Wales to give us their Top Tips for running creative sessions with their residents.

The most common ones were:

  • Let residents watch a demonstration first, then encourage them to join in
  • Let residents go at their own pace
  • Mornings are often the best time for creative activities as residents have more energy
  • Remember to have fun
  • Start small and let your sessions grow
  • Try to have two staff members in sessions. It makes things a lot easier
  • Ensure a positive vibe that inspires the residents to be free to create
  • The draw of cake and a cup of tea helps to encourage those who are a little more apprehensive to join the session.

Trying your own activity

If you’d like to do an activity that’s not in this pack, you can always try your own. Remember:

  • Make a 3-step plan so what you’re going to do is clear in your mind
  • Collect everything you’ll need (tools, material, music) in advance
  • Let residents know you’ll be running an activity in advance so they can look forward to taking part
  • When writing poems, ask open-ended questions to encourage personal and meaningful answers
  • If a story feels true to a resident, then it is true. It is always their truth which counts
  • A resident’s creative response is always right! Encouragement promotes confidence which inspires creativity

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