Osaattori – Art for Older People – Work for Artists

How could we bring together a jazz band and people living in a care home? How could a dance artist contribute to a service unit for the elderly? How would a visiting artist help care home staff? How does theatre affect people's well-being?

These questions are addressed in the ESR-funded project "Osaattori". The aim of the project is to enhance artists' employment and bring art and culture to older people.

Many studies and practical experiences have proven that art and culture promote well-being. Collaboration between creative industries and services for the elderly is a widely discussed topic, and there seems to be a need for new forms of activity.

An increasing number of older people are living in nursing homes and suffering from a lack of activity; while at the same time, newly graduated professional artists of different fields are facing poor employment prospects. The Osaattori project encourages professional artists to expand their expertise and contribute to the provision of high-quality services for the elderly.


Joint project of four cities

Osaattori is a joint project by the cities of Helsinki, Lahti, Turku and Jyväskylä. These four cities offer training for local artists and creative-industry representatives to encourage their involvement in the work for the elderly. Best practices and experiences will be shared between the partner cities to further develop cultural services for older people.


Artists working with the elderly

The course "Artists working with the elderly" deals with the professional identity of an artist and the role of art in working with the elderly. The course offers information about ageing and the municipal services offered for older people. Further topics include contacting the audience and the basics of entrepreneurship. One of Osaattori's goals is encouraging artists to operate in an entrepreneur-like manner, which is why the topic of entrepreneurship in the creative industry is widely covered in the training.

In Helsinki and Jyväskylä, two courses were arranged in 2012. In Lahti, the first course took place in autumn 2012, and the next one will start in August 2013. In Turku, one course has been completed in autumn 2012, and the training activities will continue in spring 2013.


Arts within care practices

”I realised how easy it is to add enriching elements to the work with the elderly.”

In addition to artists, training is also offered for professionals working with older people. The aim is to provide them with personal experience of the numerous meanings and implications of art and, consequently, give them ideas of various ways to incorporate art into their work.

In Helsinki, the first training groups started in the Roihuvuori Centre for the Elderly in February 2012. In the course led by LauluAvain instructors Ava Numminen and Tuula Tenn, with art educationist Satu Itkonen, the Centre's staff was introduced to the use of music and pictures in everyday work with the elderly.

In spring 2013, training has been provided at the Kustaankartano Centre for the Elderly in the form of workshops led by art educationist Satu Itkonen and actor/educationist Harriet Abrahamsson.

In Jyväskylä, the first courses took place in spring 2012. Tiina Mattila from Musiikkituotanto Keys led a course at the stationary nursing care unit of Korpilahti. Another course, focusing on dance and creative exercise, was held at the Luhtinen Daytime Centre by dance instructor, choreographer and dancer Teija Häyrynen and dance artist Noora Nenonen.

The second round of art training courses for nursing staff started in November 2012. Employees of Jyväskylä's municipal daytime centres and the Luhtinen Centre participated in a training that was partly in cooperation with artists' training. This course was led by dance and movement therapists Auli Kurvinen and Katriina Hyvönen, with arts educator Raija Lundahl. The second round of training will be completed in 2013.

In Turku, the first course was held in the Mäntyrinne nursing home in autumn 2012.  The course was intended for staff from Mäntyrinne as well as the Kurjenmäkikoti nursing home, and it was led by movie, art and photography specialists Tarja Lapila, Teija Tikka and Andrea Vannucci.

In autumn 2012, the training continued in Mäntyrinne in the form of the "Taidekuvan äärellä" ('Looking at an artwork”) workshop led by art educationist Satu Itkonen. The workshop participants came from the nursing homes of Mäntyrinne, Kurjenmäkikoti, Kutomokoti and Mansikkapaikka.

In Lahti, elderly care professionals were introduced to the opportunities of music in two courses in autumn 2012.  Employees of the Lepolakoti nursing home were trained by Tuula Tenni from LauluAvain, and the Jalkaranta Service Unit staff was trained by Mari Kätkä from A Tempo Oy.

The last Osaattori courses for professional caregivers will be held in spring 2013.


Artistic activities in care homes

In addition to training, pilot art projects are also being launched in all partner cities. The aim is to establish the role of professional art in the provision of services for the elderly. A further goal is to gather information about how the residents and service unit staff respond to the art performances and how art affects the everyday work with the elderly.

In Helsinki, a bidding competition was arranged in summer 2012, and the winner was the theatre cooperative Teatteriosuuskunta Ilmi Ö. The Christmas play "Enää kilometri jouluun" ('Only a kilometre to Christmas') toured 11 units of elderly services in Helsinki in December 2012. The Ilmi Ö show enlightened the residents' lives with an authentic theatre experience. Experiences and encounters from the tour were collected into a photo book that was delivered to all venues as a present afterwards.

The spring 2013 bidding competition's winning project is produced by a collective of professional performing artists called "Todellisuuden tutkimuskeskus" ('The reality research centre'). Their pilot project will concentrate on one unit of elderly services in Helsinki.

In Turku, two pilot art projects were implemented in 2012, in the Kurjenmäkikoti and Mäntyrinne nursing homes by the literary art association Turun sanantaideyhdistys and the Regional Dance Centre of Western Finland.

Dance mentors from the Regional Dance Centre of Western Finland visited Kurjenmäkikoti and Mäntyrinne each week between May and August 2012. The dance mentor project entails long-term work with residents. The dance mentor, a Mentoring introduces new perspectives and methods in the caregiving community, which also enlivens the daily routines of the staff. The dance mentor leads creative physical exercise based on everyone's personal capabilities. The goal is to offer feelings of success that encourage further physical activity - everyone can dance in their own way!

"Had I died yesterday, I would not have known of this kind of thing."        

Ear poetry is a method created by Turun sanataideyhdistys.An ear poem is a text created by a literary artist using words given by one or several participants. The poem stems from the meeting of people. An ear poem can reflect ordinary speech without any metaphors or allegories. Or, just as well, the poetry session can revolve around poetic questions prepared by the artist to activate the participants' memory, senses and imagination. Ear poems bring new verbalism to institutions that are often predominated by the realm of nursing. The ear poems don't reflect a person being taken care of – they describe the experiences of a unique individual. Ear poetry praises the equal, boundary-crossing everyday interaction that is always present even in institutional caregiving routines, even though it is often buried under all the hurry.

In Jyväskylä, a pilot art project will start in stationary nursing care units in March 2013. The duo "Pieni sydän", consisting of dancer Noora Nenonen and musical educationist Antti Ikonen, will tour a total of 11 units.


Osaattori, a Creative Industries Development project

As part of the Creative Industries Development programme, Osaattori aims at enhancing working organisations, labour and companies and increasing entrepreneurship.

Osaattori is funded by the European Social Fund and managed by Lasipalatsi Media Centre Ltd.

The project will continue until the end of 2013.