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Creative arts making a difference to residents with dementia
March 2, 2020
Every week a small group of Liscombe House residents with dementia come together to work with arts and craft materials, and to enter a world of peace even if it is only for a short time.
Thanks to a grant from the Perpetual IMPACT Philanthropy program, residents across Liscombe House are reaping the benefits of a creative arts therapy program which includes painting, craft work, and music. The program is run by Anna Paddock and Michelle Morgan.
According to Mandy Williamson, Lifestyle Coordinator, the year-long program has paid dividends not only for the residents but also for the volunteers who are being trained in arts therapy so that the program can be sustained.
“Every person with dementia has a different experience of the disease and their own life stories. This is where creative arts therapies come in,” Mandy said.
“Each art therapy has its own way of engaging the imagination, opening memories, helping people forget their pain even for a few moments.”
For Mandy, one of the most encouraging signs of the healing power of art therapy has been seeing the reaction of one resident with dementia after having one-on-one therapy.
“It is as though a new world has opened up,” Mandy said. “She is calmer and is able to manage her anxiety better.”
Around 50 million people worldwide have dementia and it’s on the rise. The condition affects the brain and can result in memory loss and inability to carry out everyday activities, recognise faces or remember words.
Hearings in the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety have recently begun to consider how to improve the quality of life for older people with dementia and reducing the overuse of drug interventions.
“As far as we are concerned, our creative arts therapy program shows that it is possible. People with dementia can flourish and show creativity in ways they, their caregivers and loved ones never thought possible,” Mandy said.
She said the pilot program was allowing OCAV’s art therapists to work with a range of therapies.
“Art allows residents to extend their world with colour. Craft helps them to concentrate. What we can say is that participation is resulting in significant improvements in mood and cognition, which last long after the sessions have finished.”