About the Project

The aim of the Handmade Wellbeing project was to enhance and expand professional competences of arts and crafts practitioners to conduct craft activities in elderly care contexts. Arts and crafts professionals are increasingly employed in challenging areas of community engagement that are outside their traditional core skills and abilities. They are often employed to work in cooperation with other experts in specialist fields, particularly in wellbeing and health-related services. The need for services, for older people especially, is expected to increase in the future, because people are living longer and the older population is growing fast all around the world.

Arts and crafts are creative and empowering activities that would be important to include in the activities of services for older people. However, the artists and art and craft students need more profound understanding about how to apply their know-how in this field. Also, the social and health service professionals need more knowledge of how to provide art and craft activities in elderly care. Collaboration between all the sectors is highly important for arranging meaningful activities for older people.

The project was carried out by four European partners: University of Helsinki/Finland; uniT, KUNSTLABOR Graz/Austria; Superact, NGO/UK; Viljandi Culture Academy of University of Tartu/Estonia. Each partner offered arts & crafts workshops in elderly care settings in their respective countries and arranged a seminar and an exhibition to present their work to stakeholders. Each partner also arranged a training week which the other partners participated. The reflection sessions that were arranged during each training week made it possible to comment and share views and best practices of working creatively with older people, and to develop them together.

As an outcome, a practice-based handbook about facilitating arts and crafts workshops in elderly care settings was developed in co-operation with all the partners.

The main targets

to expand professional competences of arts and crafts specialists, to work in the elderly care sector

to co-create and research pedagogy for working creatively with older people

to support the overall wellbeing of older people through creative activities

to distribute the outcomes, such as working methods for suitable pedagogy and research results.

Background

Wellbeing and vitality are built on physical health, but also strongly on creative activities. In many interventions and studies, self-making has been shown to strengthen both physical and mental vitality.  To be successful in improving the wellbeing and self-management of a person, other approaches need to be integrated into and alongside the physical care, in order to address the whole person’s needs. Creative social engagement may be a means to reduce social isolation and to support patterns of movement as well as muscular stimulation in an enriched environment.

Creativity – fostered by artistic cooperation with older people – can be seen as a key quality, that is worth to be encouraged and developed in every stage of age.  It enhances life skills, it helps people to become more active in tailoring their own fate. Therefore, it must be seen as an important part of health promotion. This type of project aims to help people discover, rediscover and/or enhance their creative potential as well as to make it an essential part of their life. Various evaluations of former projects have proved that this kind of activity will have a positive impact on older people.