The residential home

Jakob House residential home

The residential care home is in a city in the North of England. It is funded by the local council. There are 28 residents the majority of whom are in the 80′s and 90′s. The oldest resident is 104 years old.

The residential home has perhaps been the most challenging site the design team have ever engaged with. Numerous surveys have shown that older people fear living in a care more more than then fear death! However, Age Concern have long recognised the danger of isolation for people living alone and there are advantages to communal living. Indeed, a number of new relationships and romances have flourished between residents during the life of the project.

Jakob House chair

Most of the residents spend their days in the lounge area, in front of a television, drifting in and out of sleep. The day is punctuated by tea or coffee and the laborious task of moving in and out of the dinning room for meals. As with the nuns, the role of digital technology seemed of little importance. The initial focus of the project was then not on technology but people. There was a clear need for more visitors and an ongoing part of the work has been attempting to make the institution more permeable. The initial part of these efforts was to establish a network of visitors including artists and local children. Technologies were taken into the home as curiosities, ‘tickets to talk’ that helped break the ice for first visits or on successive occasions when initial acquaintance had been forgotten.

Pencil drawing of elderly care home resident

Three artists have become involved in the project. Phil Reynolds has been drawing and painting the residents portraits. Yan Preston has been capturing photographs of the home,  the residents and the Carers. Patrick Smith is a digital artist that has been pulling together the work of both Phil and Yan to create collage prints.

Latest developments have seen the involvement of children and residents in an arts based project within a care home in York. The arts in this context have formed a meeting place where different generations have interacted and gained new understanding and insights into each other’s lives. The next phase of the project will build on this and explore the potential of digital media to act as a bridge.

childrens portraits of care home residents

Lab4Living, Sheffield Hallam University,
Furnival Building, 153 Arundel Street, Sheffield, S1 2NU
Phone 0114 225 6753 | Fax 0114 225 6931