Talking about art and dementia

Filed : Ageing, disability, wellbeing projects, Arts & Health, Projects .

April:  Artists and and health/ aged care workers in Forbes learnt skills to facilitate guided tours of works of art for people living with dementia, as part of the National Gallery of Australia’s Art and Dementia Outreach Program.

April: Artists and and health/ aged care workers in Forbes learnt skills to facilitate guided tours of works of art for people living with dementia, as part of the National Gallery of Australia’s Art and Dementia Outreach Program.

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This group have now began the process of implementing a sustainable program in the Forbes area.

The program was presented by Jemalong Residential Village, Arts OutWest and the National Gallery of Australia.

Over the two days participants – roughly half artists and half health professionals –  developed specialised communication skills and were given an introduction to understanding life with dementia by a dementia care professional. Sessions were led by Adrienne Boag from the National Gallery of Australia.

Sessions were held at Jemalong Residental Village and in the Forbes Arts Society’s Platypus Gallery in town.

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“Partnerships established between arts professionals and health care providers during the workshop will ensure a sustainable program can be developed to support people living with dementia in the Forbes communities,” Arts OutWest arts and health coordinator Christine McMillan said.

“Looking at and talking about works of art provides opportunities for people living with dementia to connect with the world in enriching and life-enhancing ways. A guided visit to a gallery promotes social inclusion in an intellectually stimulating environment for people who may be isolated and lack opportunities for meaningful activities,” Ms McMillan said.

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The Art and Dementia Outreach Program is based on the program developed at the National Gallery of Australia since 2007. The training workshop has been delivered in multiple regional and metropolitan art galleries and was recognised nationally through a Museums Australia iMAGiNE award presented for most innovative public program at the 2011 Museums Australia Conference, Perth.

Arts OutWest has previously worked with the National Gallery of Australia on a similar, award winning, art and dementia project.

The incidence of dementia is increasing and can be linked to the ageing of Australia’s population. Dementia is expected to become the largest source of disability burden in Australia by 2016. Nearly one million Australians are involved in the care of a family or friend with dementia. Programs for people living with dementia are therefore timely and relevant for the community. This program promotes well-being and increased quality of life.

The workshop is supported by Alzheimer’s Australia.

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