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Creative pursuits: Arts and crafts

Posted on 10/10/2013

The joy of arts and crafts is that there are so many different projects that you could undertake that there is sure to be something that piques your interest. Sewing and kitting are popular crafts, which are also practical too as you can create gifts, clothing and household items. Other activities that are growing in popularity include scrapbooking, making cards and painting.

Arts and crafts aren’t expensive hobbies to get started with, and there are plenty of groups and classes around the country that help you to learn new skills and meet up with fellow crafters.

You could also attend craft fairs, either to sell your wares or to get inspiration for new ideas.

The benefits

Activities like sewing or knitting help to keep the mind active. They have also been shown to help people with dementia, as it is a familiar activity that you can continue to do for a long time.

Most crafts require hand-eye coordination and this is also helping to keep the mind active. It’s a great way to pass time when the weather is bad and it is hard to get outside, so it can be a cure for loneliness.

Sewing circles, and other crafting groups, welcome members of all ages and abilities, and having a social event linked to your hobby helps to get you out and about every week.

Interview with… Anna Terry

Activities to Share

Activities to Share was launched in 2010 by Simon Birtles and Anna Terry. The website provides a range of tailored activity resources for older people, in particular those with dementia. We spoke to them about the company, the arts and crafts products they produce and why these kinds of activities are beneficial.

You’re the Boss: Can you tell us a bit about your company and how it came about?

Anna Terry: For the previous 15 years we ran a training company, Help in Sight Training, which offered a range of health and social care courses for nursing and care staff nationwide. Courses included Sight Loss Hearing Loss, Dementia, Activities, Challenging Behaviour and Working with Families and Relatives. In 2009/2010 we ran a series of projects funded by Bromley Local Authority; one of these was to develop a programme of reminiscence workshops and life story sessions for older people with dementia. It became very clear that Care Home Activity Coordinators needed much more support with their challenge of providing engaging activities for their residents – they also needed ‘essential tools for the job’. Hence the birth of Activities to Share.

We provide a wealth of activity resources designed to be used with older people by carers, family members, volunteers and Activity Leaders, Occupational Psychologists and Health Care workers. The range includes Art and Craft, Exercise, Music, Quizzes & Crosswords, Table-Top Games and Sensory Activities. All products have been tried and tested by ourselves at some stage or by Activity Leaders in Care Homes and Day Centres.

Many of our products we have designed ourselves for example: Life Story Books, Activity Calendar, Date and Weather Board, Reminiscence Sets, Exercise Games and some Table-Top Games. These are also are best-selling products!

You’re the Boss: How important is it for older people, especially those suffering from disabilities or dementia, to have access to a range of different activities?

Anna Terry: It’s essential that older people, and especially those with dementia, have access to a full range of activities but they must be adult appropriate, easily facilitated for all carers, reasonably priced and in line with current thinking, for example doll therapy.

You’re the Boss: What are the benefits of arts and crafts activities in later life?

Anna Terry: Arts and crafts in later life is a very popular and effective way of engaging older people. I have worked with many older people who have never done arts and craft in their younger days, but have found a real passion for it later on. For people with dementia it is an excellent way of making meaningful contact without putting the memory or communication under pressure. Arts and crafts need to be adult appropriate, easy to set up and of interest to the individual; some people love to colour but not to paint.

You’re the Boss: What are your most popular products in terms of arts and crafts?

Anna Terry: Our most popular arts products are: Aqua Paints, Colouring Books, Colouring Cards, Wall Murals and Weaving Widgets

Painting set


Activities to Share

Activities to Share is a website that offers activity resources for older people, in particular those with dementia or disabilities. The company provides products to care homes, day centres and supporting living schemes in the UK and abroad. Activities range from puzzles, board games, painting tools and outdoor activities. Items can be ordered via the website, over email or by phone.

Living made easy

Living made easy provides tools and products to help around the home and in daily activities. There is a whole section dedicated to leisure and hobbies, including sewing, painting and pottery. Here you can find things like needle threaders and easy-grip paintbrushes.

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