Preston care home provides the inspiration for new poetry book

Inspiration: Lady Elsie Finney House and (below) Sarah Hesketh
Inspiration: Lady Elsie Finney House and (below) Sarah Hesketh
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A Preston care home has provided the inspiration for a new book of poems and interviews.

Freelance writer, Sarah Hesketh, spent 20 weeks at the Lady Elsie Finney Care Home in Cottam, a residential care home for people with dementia, as part of an artist-in-residence project commissioned by Age Concern that was designed to go beyond art therapy.

Poet and author Sarah Hesketh who spent time at  Lady Elsie Finney House talking to and working with the residents of the home for a new collection of poems and interviews in association with Age UK exploring dementia and how it affects suffers of the disease

Poet and author Sarah Hesketh who spent time at Lady Elsie Finney House talking to and working with the residents of the home for a new collection of poems and interviews in association with Age UK exploring dementia and how it affects suffers of the disease

Sarah, 31, from Pendle, said: “ We were not there to help residents produce watercolours or embroider cushions.

“The project posed the question: what would happen if you placed practising artists in dementia care settings and asked them to create responses?

“We were encouraged to collaborate positively with the people we met, but not to make comfortable art andiIf we uncovered some difficult truths along the way, that would be ok.”

The result of Sarah’s residency is ‘The Hard Word Box’ that includes a number of poems that combine phrases from care plans with the actual words that people used.

Some are found poems, taken from posters and instructions around the home and one poem, ‘Elizabeth’, is made up of every word spoken by one resident during her visit.

Sarah, who also blogged about her experiences, added: “It was amazing, hard, and often quite sad.

“You are spending time with people who are going through a very difficult time in their lives.

“I realised what was most important was that they spoke about what their lives were like at the present moment, rather than what they had been or used to be like.

“They are still living their lives, and these lives are what need to be represented - in art, in policy, to families.”