Lights! Camera! Action! for care home residents

Resident Ivy Hudson, 93, with Ladder to the Moon Creative Practitioner James Austin Harvey
Resident Ivy Hudson, 93, with Ladder to the Moon Creative Practitioner James Austin Harvey

The team and residents at a Sanctuary Care home in Charlton joined forces to recreate the classic film ‘South Pacific’, as part of an innovative project to enhance residents’ quality of life and develop creativity across the care setting.


The project at Time Court Residential and Nursing Home on Wood Terrace was led by creative facilitators from Ladder to the Moon, a community interest company that supports care homes to become more vibrant places to live and work.


Ladder to the Moon’s work at Time Court is part of Shine!, a national two-year arts programme which uses creative arts to shine a light on the talents of residents across Sanctuary Care’s 61 homes.


Mary Johnson, the home’s manager, said of the project: “The experience of holding a film-themed event has uncovered more of the interests and talents of our team and residents. There have been real breakthroughs in the wellbeing of residents and staff have discovered how embracing creativity can help them communicate more effectively with their colleagues and the people they care for.”


Two Ladder to the Moon team members took on the roles of Hollywood director and film star to lead a series of workshops as part of a shoot at the care home. In the first session, a variety of films, including Some Like it Hot, The Sound of Music and Robin Hood, were discussed and residents voted for their favourite.


It was the tropical theme of South Pacific that provoked the most conversation and enthusiasm for the home’s residents, so this was decided as the final film.


Shula Hawes, Programme Co-ordinator for Ladder to the Moon, explained: “When choosing a film we wanted to look for what sparked residents’ interests. We danced, sang and acted various scenes, to see which ones were most popular.


“Through this we learned about residents’ previous experiences and their dreams, such as many of them wanting to visit a tropical climate. The selection process was fun and showed staff a creative way to get to know residents even better.”


As well as benefitting the home’s residents, the Ladder to the Moon project has also offered training to the care home’s team, enabling them to build relationships with residents through the film production process and involve residents who are less likely to participate.


In the second session, residents and the team took part in a props and production session, with residents creating palm trees, tropical flowers and seascapes. For this session, staff received training on engaging ‘hard to reach’ residents and experienced how using props and creative tools can open up communication with people living with dementia.


Mary added: “I have seen residents blossom in confidence and I really feel this project has strengthened the sense of community in our home.
“One particular resident has always loved drawing but has not been as active with his hobby in recent years. However with encouragement and support from our team and the Ladder to the Moon facilitators, he drew an amazing parrot which was used in the film’s tropical set. He was delighted.”


In the third session residents took on a variety of roles, including starring parts, behind the camera, costume & make-up and manning the clapperboard, to film the production.


To celebrate the culmination of the shoot, an Oscars-style ceremony was held on Wednesday 11 June at the care home, where the film was screened and prizes were given to residents and staff who had made the biggest contribution to the project.


The project will now enter its ‘momentum’ phase, which will see the care home’s team undertake more training from Ladder to the Moon to enable them to deliver similar activities on an on-going basis within the home.


Ladder to the Moon’s work at Time Court has been funded through Sanctuary Group, Sanctuary Care’s parent company and is part of the Group’s commitment to supporting projects and initiatives which benefit residents and the communities they live in.


  1. It is so amazing to spend some time with the elderly. Last month, I had also filmed a day with the old age people in The Willows Carre Home in Lancashire. The experience is inexplicable, and my 45-minutes short documentary video also drew appreciation from various quarters.


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