Care writer, Jerry Short visited the 45-bed Devon Nursing Home in Ilfracombe, to visit Jenny Melland who lives with early-stage Parkinson’s, to find out how her life had changed since moving there over two years ago. She was busy painting when he arrived at the home. “Art is my whole way of doing things” she explained when he met her.
Jerry said, “When I asked if the move had made her life any easier, she said yes, life was much easier now. She found she was not just being supported to do the things she enjoyed, but she was encouraged to continue with them. One of the things she loved most about the home is that she now had time to paint when she wanted to because she is supported. She only has to ask for a cup of tea, and someone would bring one and be happy to sit with her and chat. Jerry continued “She agreed when I jokingly suggest it was like having her cake, drawing it and eating it!”
When Jenny was younger, she enjoyed her art classes at school and grew up greatly admiring the work of classical artists such as Rembrandt, but now she is in her 73rd year her tastes have matured to include contemporary artists such as David Hockney and the renowned, Bristol artist, Banksy.
Unfortunately, Jenny’s Parkinson’s affected her ability to hold pens and brushes so easily, but she has not given up her love of drawing. Jerry said “She continued to sketch whilst talking to me. She prefers to work with a soft 6B pencil since they are good for light and shade. Whilst I was sat with her, two different care team members came to check on her to see if there was anything they could do. The first wanted to know if she’d like a juice and the second sat next to her and said quietly “I can steady your hand if that would help”, she declined both offers but their continual discreet observation as to who may need care, impressed me.”
He asked her if the condition has stopped her doing anything. “Yes, it has affected my mobility,” she told him, “So I miss my trips up to the National Portrait Gallery, but I do love living at Edenmore. They really look after me and being able to draw, helps me to relax”.
The care team at Edenmore provide residential and nursing care, as well as dementia support. They employ a “Household Model of Care” which creates a true continuation of home. Their “Household Model” of care means that choice is at the forefront of everything they do. Their family members can choose when they want to go to bed, what they would like to fill their days with and what they would like to eat.
The team also know that art is very therapeutic and improves ‘well-being. It can also be used to address specific symptoms of conditions such as Parkinson’s. With art there is no such thing as a “wrong” mark, every mark is valid.
According to the Davis Phinney Foundation for Parkinson’s, art therapy is a popular and effective way of increasing activity in the brain. They say – “When drawing or painting, you are using both the right and the left hemispheres of your brain and is an excellent form of therapy”.
So, with a sea view, comfortable and safe surroundings and a care team that encourages painting and creativity to flow, living with a heightened sense of well-being is all part of life at Edenmore.