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7 June 2021

Continuous learning in Covid

While the pandemic is still evolving we are already learning. Here’s some text written as we developed the Dawn Chorus.

The Covid-19 pandemic is a crisis without clean ending. Social distancing measures will continue to impact population segments particularly older adults, for some time. Lockdowns and re-openings must be responsive to infection. The project will deliver on the role of Irish culture and the arts in maintaining hope and community cohesion and social connection. It reduces isolation and loneliness, has measureable impact on health and wellbeing. It articulates the generosity of spirit that makes a Republic of Care.

It achieves this by animating phone, post, broadcast, neighbourhood routes to engage community. The lead team  (Creative Aging International with Sing Ireland and TCD) have:

  1. Mapped organization, roles, functions and deliverables.
  2. Developed sophisticated understanding of how organizations and tools can connect to and address population segments across age group, interest and specific needs (e.g. isolated older adults, school groups, families)
  3. Clarified processes and development with sensitivity to phases of lockdown and emergence.
  4. Built emotional intelligence to balance celebration with

Scenarios developing: Singing groups (35k people via Sing Ireland, 45k via RIAM) invited to learn songs, provided with lyrics and tools online. Older adults receive lyrics and engagement packs via Community Nurse, volunteer networks, An Post. Broadcasters extend invitation to sing with radio show or TV features. Invites discussion of song selection, offers community challenge to create new composition or commission. Youth choir learn lullabies and sing to older adults via ALONE telephone befriending scheme.

As lockdown is eased groups gather by neighbourhood, in numbers appropriate to lockdown phase, to rehearse in public and sing. Projects development is therefore aligned to lockdown, showcases scenic locations across Ireland. A final concert in 2021 could align with the all clear.

Cross promotion across multiple partners can encourage wider engagement and amplification appropriate to audience segmentation e.g. engagement of celebrity, commission of new work, promotion of landscape and place.

Health and Wellbeing Benefits – The project is built on research into the positive impact of creativity and art on health outcomes. It specifically addresses social isolation, loneliness, psychological wellbeing, anxiety and loss of hope which undermine efforts to combat the virus through lowered immunity, obstructing positive health behaviors, and increasing morbidity/mortality. It combats increased cognitive deficiency due to prolonged isolation, particularly impactful on people living with alzheimers and their carers. It encourages resilience and positive mental health by creating the opportunity for agency, achievement and re-inforcement of optimism. It aligns with Healthy Ireland intiatives focused on older fragile, and vulnerable populations, engaging before crisis through social prescription.   It delivers this by connecting across community- based delivery partners and aligning their existing assets to deliver repeated and small doses of creative activity (postal, phone, neighbourhood)..

The initiative is developing quickly.  We are working with musical directors to determine attractive content (songs, education tools) that will be developed for delivery via community group, choirs, postal, phone (including befriending services), online, broadcaster, social care and public health teams.  Development is shaped to encourage individual and collective participation, ownership and success. Beginning with simple familiar song, building to locally owned repertoire we provide a suite of tools for community engagement through creativity. There are regular achievement moments. For successful impact it will be centrally driven while locally owned and adapted to place.    #dawnchorusireland