by Guest Writer
“I realise I can do so much more than I thought I could do.”
Margaret is a resident of Tower Bridge Care Home, who has been an Entelechy Arts member in our care home Walking through Walls programme for over five years. It’s been a rich cultural collaboration between residents, their families and staff: a treasure trove of amazing stories are uncovered using words, music, poetry, theatre, tactile art and dance.
Over time, the creative work between the nursing home community and our artists has developed to include the different places throughout the home. and spaces where residents like to be. Sessions and performances might take place in, and between, communal areas, corridors, gardens and bedrooms, according to what each person chooses. Walking through Walls expands and contributes to the Entelechy Arts site-specific portfolio.
Like many Entelechy Arts members, Margaret has been involved in a range of artistic endeavours since she joined us a few years ago (Wilderness Tales, Walking Through Walls, 21st Century Tea Dances, development of The Home to name but a few and more…) including co-creating and performing in ‘Bridge’ a promenade circus event at Tower Bridge in 2019.
This range and a breadth was expressed by Margaret, as she talked in conversation with us and Paulette, the Wellbeing Coordinator for Tower Bridge Care Home:
Margaret: Every Tuesday we used to have activities. Tower Bridge [the actual Tower Bridge, not the care home] had a performance from someone in the circus in there. Circus acrobats. It culminated in a big finale. We were singing!
Paulette: Margaret has also performed at The Albany. All different care homes and ages got involved – in the Tea Dances. Imagine being in a nightclub, it’s very dark with bright lights, you should try it!
M: There’s a Jazz band playing, they’re excellent, very good. I feel so free it’s lovely! We also went to Burgess Park as well, and Hays Galleria, with Entelechy. Just going out it was really nice and refreshing. We went to the river. It was so nice, they’ve been really good for me to get out of the same old, same old, four walls.
We’re really touched that these memories have stood out to Margaret, despite the challenging past year, and living in a care home where many have been lost and we haven’t been able visit Tower Bridge, other than via letter correspondence.
Margaret being a part of Entelechy Arts has had benefits on both sides: she has been a fantastic ambassador for us, introducing new people to the Tea Dances, encouraging other residents to join in, and whilst Margaret herself wasn’t so confident in joining at first, she now is a leader and her confidence is infectious.
“I enjoy watching others in the group being helped and I can become a facilitator too. I realise I can do so much more than I thought I could do. My actual health and well-being improves more. I’m more expressive and communicative.”
From Margaret’s side she feels that joining in the groups has had a positive impact on her health. She loves singing anyway, but the structure of the sessions she has taken part in with half vocal warm-up and breathing exercises, means that her speech has improved (Margaret had a stroke which affected her speech), and it’s much clearer and easier for her to speak. The other half of the sessions, she and Paulette enjoy the opportunity for residents of different floors on the care home to come together for a social event.
Margaret and Paulette are looking forward to the groups starting up again, and we certainly can’t wait to see Margaret on the dance floor again all dressed in all her finery!
“I like good clothes. I get dressed up for the tea dances. Any day is an occasion. ‘Here I go again, my my, how can I resist you!’”
The blog, and the others in this short series of ‘Stories from our members’ are all based on interviews and conversations that took place with Entelechy Arts’ members, artists, volunteers and partners along with their families, carers and support networks in March 2021.