Impact case study

Enhancing wellbeing through film

Published on 12 May 2022

Using film in care homes for physical, emotion and social benefits, and to increase social engagement.

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Image of audience watching screen by Jake Hills on Unsplash

According to the Public Health Scotland Care Home Census, there were 1069 care homes for adults in Scotland in March 2021, housing an estimated 33,353 residents of whom 91% (30,502) were resident in care homes for older people. Provision of care for older people is often complex, involving support for physical, social and emotional needs.

A cross-disciplinary team of researchers from humanities, health and social sciences has worked directly with care homes in Angus and Tayside to raise awareness of the potential of film as a meaningful activity in care homes and to change the perceptions of staff in terms of how film resources are used and managed.

Drawing on their collective expertise in Film Studies and in the use of arts-based tools in care and rehabilitation settings, the team received funding from the Carnegie Trust for a pilot to explore the use of film in care settings. Working in partnership with regional care homes, the pilot programme involved residents in selecting and viewing the films and engaging in post-screening discussions.

The team found that film supported people living in care homes in several ways. Classic films were a useful way to promote personal and shared reminiscence, building a sense of community and social belonging. Familiar (as opposed to new) films also aided functional memory, placing a lower burden on those with cognitive impairment and regular scheduling of screenings built a sense of anticipation and excitement for residents.

Following the successful pilot, The Scottish Social Service Council shared news of the project with all Scottish Care homes, paving the way for the research team to establish a collaboration with the Care Inspectorate.

The research programme has changed the ways in which care homes use film, leading to physical, emotional and social benefits and increasing social engagement between people living in care homes and their visiting relatives. Participating homes have also changed their associated practices, with two homes establishing a dedicated cinema room following their involvement in the pilot study. Care home staff also acknowledged being empowered through their involvement in the research.

The partnership with the Care Inspectorate has resulted in a resource on Film in Care which has been co-created with regional care homes. It’s publication by the Care Inspectorate (delayed by Covid) will include the importance of screenings as a Covid-friendly activity.

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