First Group of Kerry Graduates from Course Designed to Enrich Lives of Older People Through Creativity

  • 20 Kerry-based Creative Exchanges activities coordinators graduate today
  • Creative Exchanges is a QQI accredited course for anyone leading creative activities with older people in care settings, and for those interested in working with older people
  • For the first time community volunteers also participated in the course

Twenty new activities coordinators today graduate from a training programme called Creative Exchanges. The Kerry-based participants took part in the training course which was organised by Age & Opportunity and commissioned by Cork Kerry Community Healthcare.

Creative Exchanges is a QQI accredited course for anyone leading creative activities with older people in care settings, and for those interested in working with older people. Participants develop the skills and confidence needed to plan and facilitate arts activities for older people in either residential or day care settings.

This is the first time that the training was offered in Kerry and the first time that community volunteers took part as well as those employed in care settings, helping us to enrich the lives of more older people through creative practice.  This was made possible through funding from the Department of Health and Pobal and the HSE, as part of Kerry’s involvement in the Healthy Ireland plan.

During the programme, the graduates participated in practical workshops with artists working in care settings through music, dance, the visual arts or drama. Forty people completed the training, and the group included care workers, community volunteers, HSE staff and those interested in working with older people in care settings and community groups.  The award is a QQI component award at Level 6 on the National Framework of Qualifications.

Speaking at the presentation of Certificates in Manor West Hotel, Tralee, Ciarán McKinney, Age & Opportunity commented:

It is so important that those organising activities for older people are skilled and confident in being able to deliver interesting, varied, person-centred activities. These activities can have a direct impact on the quality of life of an older person in care, and in the community.  We are delighted that through this collaborative partnership with Cork Kerry Community Healthcare, we now have a network of skilled coordinators in Kerry and that through the involvement of community volunteers we are now reaching new communities. This collaboration with Cork Kerry Community Healthcare is a wonderful example of how partnerships among the public and voluntary sectors can make a vital difference to supporting older people’s lives and we hope this will lead to further collaboration in the region.

This initiative will bring a whole new level of creativity into the lives of people in nursing homes and community groups in Kerry by providing the learning and development in relation to guiding creative activities in care settings. Mixing theory, regulations and practical creative work, participants will be able to bring their learning back to their own nursing home or community group, so that people can feel the benefits straight away.

Mairéad Hanlon, one of today’s graduates said:

Creative Exchanges enlightened me in relation to the stigma attached to ageing – just because you reach a certain age doesn’t mean you are written off.  I think all health care workers – doctors and nurses as well as care assistants – should do a course like this.

Speaking at the graduation Hilary Scanlan, Community Work Manager Cork Kerry Healthcare, HSE commented:

The feedback from participants has been very positive, they have gained the skills and knowledge to enable them to deliver varied, innovative and creative programmes in their care settings and communities.  Through this network of skilled coordinators in Kerry, we hope to support varied and stimulating programmes for older people’s groups and encourage active engagement in the community, promoting the vision of Healthy Ireland in the county.

Creative Exchanges was developed in 2013 by Age & Opportunity, the national organisation that inspires people aged 50+ to live a life in which they are more active, more visible, more creative and more connected. The need for such a programme was borne out of research which showed significant benefits for older people in care who have access to the arts.

The next course is scheduled to take place in the Autumn, in IMMA.  For more details and information on how to apply click here.