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The research element of Virtual Art Snacks

Virtual Arts Snacks Feasibility Study: Developing a new online approach to providing arts experiences in rural residential aged care. ArtsOutWest has partnered with health researchers from Charles Sturt University and Sydney University to conduct an evaluation and feasibility research using an action research model. 

Virtual Art Snacks trains rural artists and health workers to deliver a program of short, sequential cross-artform activities to residents and carers in aged care. The project is a piece of action research, trialling and assessing different creative online experiences, plus six face-to-face residencies.

Our pilot program and initial research in Oberon has shown that community confidence is such that community based groups have taken on the responsibility for fundraising in order to continue and embed an arts-based program in their MPS and have increased their volunteer participation in the program.

The aim of Art Snacks is to deliver a high-quality, innovative online arts program that is responsive to COVID impacted rural aged-care facilities. The Virtual Arts Snacks Program delivered by the Regional Arts Development Organisation, Arts OutWest is a cross-sector arts in health project that employs regional creative artists to deliver online art activities to residents and carers in rural Multi-Purpose Services.  Commencing in August 2021, funded by a Regional Arts NSW, Renewal grant, the program is designed to respect aged-care residents’ need to stay connected and culturally engaged; reduce social isolation and co-create ‘liveable’ places with aged-care residents and health staff, whilst fostering diverse networks across the rural health service and broader community.

This research evaluates both tangible and intangible outcomes regarding the implementation of virtual art workshops into rural Multi-Purpose Services. Meaningful social experiences generate wellbeing and are often intangible to measure. This paper discusses how and why the regular programming of virtual art activities co-creates liveable environments and in line with the National Standards for the delivery of quality care in Multi-Purpose Services can operate as a tangible pathway to accreditation.

Participatory Action Research (PAR) using a collaborative, cyclical research process with the user-led model – plan, act, observe, reflect will be applied to evaluate the program. This will support researchers to understand and improve the lifeworld of research participants. The process will assess the effectiveness of the online delivery of arts workshops in music, visual art and performance/ movement. It will also evaluate the feasibility and success of various types of technology for delivery. The main methods used to collect data are focus groups and feedback via text message.

Navigating workforce issues regarding capacity and facilities; delivering activities to multiple sites simultaneously; and technological issues pertaining to the federal government roll-out of iPads with limited state infrastructure to support implementation.

The implementation of virtual art workshops in rural Multi-purpose Services contribute to accreditation by reducing social isolation for aged-care residents by fostering meaningful connections across diverse networks.

Can this innovative and creative approach to wellbeing be regarded as ‘essential’ rather than an ‘optional’ model of virtual care?

The project is a piece of action research, trialling and assessing different creative online experiences, plus six face-to-face residencies.