Benefits of watching films with care home residents

Researchers from the Universities of Dundee, Edinburgh and University College Dublin have been working on a project called ‘Care Home as Cinematic Community: Enhancing Social Connectivity through Film’.

tvfilmThe research is funded by the Carnegie Trust and is the first study in the UK to look at the benefits of watching films in care homes.

Dr Ana Salzberg, Lecturer in Film Studies, is leading the project. She explains:

‘We wanted to look closely at how films improve emotional well-being and social interaction – not only between the residents, who may experience loneliness and isolation from friends and family – but also with the staff who take part in and organise the screenings.’

During the summer of 2016, the researchers ran six film screenings in two care homes in the east of Scotland. They gave residents a choice of films to watch and observed how residents engaged with the film and with each other. They also ran group interviews with residents and individual interviews with staff to get their opinions about the film experience.

The research found that films prompted reminiscence. Residents enjoyed remembering moments from their pasts. However, films could also bring up sad memories and care home staff need to be prepared to deal sensitively with difficult emotions. The research also shows that films can be used for more than reminiscence.

Dr Breckenridge, researcher and occupational therapist, explains:

‘Residents enjoyed being in the present moment. Watching the films helped to improve their immediate sensory, emotional and social engagement with their environments and each other.’

Residents and staff sang along with the films, laughed and danced. One resident said,

‘It takes all your willpower to stay in the armchair and not jump up!’

Some residents liked to talk, some watched in silence, some came in and out of the room, and some dozed off for parts of the film – there was no right or wrong way to watch the film.

The researchers are also happy to come and speak to care homes who might be interested in finding out more. Please contact Ana at or phone 01382 384085.

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