Having a quality life while in a nursing home implies the ability to exhibit voice, choice, and control. However, working in nursing homes such as those whose residents have dementia may deny an individual the opportunity to practice several aspects of freedom like voice. The residents with dementia face a decline in both physical and cognitive abilities which results in distress to themselves and their families (Bailey et al., 2016). A creative approach can be significant in empowering the residents of a nursing home on how to express their needs and concerns. At the same time, it can help healthcare personnel adopt effective strategies to deliver quality, patient-centered service. Therefore, the personnel in such facilities need to become creative in their approach to care. Creative writing is one of the effective ways that can benefit the residents of a nursing home including their nursing care assistants and families.
Working as a nurse in a care home whose residents have dementia, results in numerous experiences as community creative writers. Skepticism from some members of the nursing home community about the effectiveness and validity of the process is one of the difficulties that one experiences. However, writing about various topics has been helpful and beneficial to a majority of the residents. Components of our creative writings involved images and poetry. Photographs, posters, paintings, and postcards are based on nature. These collections include images of snowy mountains, which raise attention and questions among the residents. Other images like those of birds stimulate the minds of the residents when they reflect on the types of birds that are attractive for viewing. Creative writing has enabled us as community nurses to identify and appreciate the physical defects of various individuals in the nursing home. This creative art initiated noticeable energy around the healthcare facility as evidenced by the caregivers’ heartily discussions on the response of the residents towards the creative images and descriptions.
As community writers, we have also benefitted the nursing home through our establishment of poetry. However, we faced criticism from some staff members regarding our intention to publish a newsletter for the residents. We have once used a collaborative approach to write a poem that required each resident to share their memories and the meaning of seasons such as Christmas. Engaging the residents every month with themed questions has also been essential in our creative writing using the thoughts of residents, relatives, and visitors which in turn inspired interest and a feeling of inclusivity.
Creative writing while working as a nurse in the nursing home for residents with dementia has also benefited older people. The poems and other forms of cultural expressions we created through our creative writing immensely improved interpersonal and intergenerational relationships (Bailey et al., 2016). The texts helped such individuals to remain focused as diversion of attention is a characteristic of dementia which is the intended outcome of such care homes.
In conclusion, serving as a nurse while also acting as a community creative writer has helped the nursing home to deliver quality standards and hence benefitting the residents and other employees. Many residents and employees in the facility have continued to demonstrate satisfaction with the joy on their faces when they see their contributions in the publications of works such as collaborative poems, and newsletters. Images including photographs, paintings, and pictures of cultural aspects have been essential in increasing the morale and commitment of the residents and the home care employees. I believe that our work has continuously given the residents voice, choice, and control abilities.
Bailey, C., Jones, R., Tiplady, S., Quinn, I., Wilcockson, J., & Clarke, A. (2016). Creative writing and dementia care: ‘Making it real’. International Journal of Older People Nursing, 11(4), 244-254.