Rachel Davies has been a member of the team at Thistle Court for over 15 years. While some may consider that to make her ‘part of the furniture’ at the home, it is actually the furniture that is part of her.
Throughout the home, there are beautiful, handcrafted paintings of old adverts, scenery, wildlife and a mural, for which Rachel is responsible.
“I’ve always enjoyed drawing and painting but got back into it properly about 6 or 7 years ago, I painted a mural for a friend and loved doing it, I find it relaxes me,” Rachel said.
It wasn’t long before Rachel’s works were adorning the Thistle Court walls for the community to enjoy in their home. She created pieces that made reference to previous eras of which many living in the home recognise.
“All the people we care for like looking at the pictures I’ve painted so I decided to do a few for them to go up in the dining room and lounge. They really liked the old advert paintings it was a good conversation starter,” she said.
These retro recreations, such as the Typhoo Tea, Quaker Oats and Rowntree’s Jellies adverts pictured are visual reminders of memories from generations past and visual prompts that can spark conversations within the Thistle Court community. These opportunities for reminiscence and social connection can be vital for a person’s wellbeing, particularly if they have started their journey with dementia.
Rachel hasn’t just limited herself to wall hung paintings, having created a mural on the wall that leads out towards the garden space at the home.
“A lot of the people we care for and their relatives said that it really brightens up the walls and looks lovely,” she said.
Alongside the admiring of Rachel’s impressive works, art is a staple occupation within the home as some of the more creative members of the Thistle Court community paint as a pastime.
“A few of the family members do enjoy painting and I’ve enjoyed doing it with them, it is always fun to get creative and messy!” Rachel said.
Creating artistic pieces can be a way of expression without the use of words. This can be an important opportunity to connect socially if a person’s journey with dementia means that they are unable to rely on verbal communication as much as they once did.
The resulting feelings of inclusion and belonging can go a long way to supporting a person’s wellbeing through the social connections created in the shared experience of brushing paint onto a blank canvas.
As Rachel has been supporting the Thistle Court community, she has built and shared in connections with the people she cares for and sees Thistle Court not as a place of work, but as a home.
“It’s like my second home!” She said, “I love what I do and the bond I have with the people we care for.”
Rachel’s care for the people at Thistle Court has made both a physical and an emotional imprint on the Cwmbran home. Her creative pieces have stimulated conversations, positive feelings and a reconnection to memories from previous generations.
If you look beyond the surface beauty of these paintings, you will find images that reflect the home and the community who both live and work at Thistle Court.