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In conjunction to our creative and research work around dementia we have devised a series of art workshop programmes run for people with dementia.
We take a person centered approach, aiming to see the person with dementia as an individual, rather than focusing on their illness or on abilities that they may have lost.
Using a variety of creative tools including crafting, object handling, photography, singing, poetry drawing, drama and even cooking our workshops aim to:
Stimulate memory and provide a different means of communication to people with dementia by engaging all of their senses.
Enable people with dementia to maintain relationships and be socially included despite of their cognitive decline.
Raise the person with dementia’s confidence in their abilities and demonstrate to carers what their loved ones might still be able to accomplish.
Provide the possibility for activities and means of engagement to be transferred to the home environment.
We work on a regular basis with Resonate Arts, whose programme ranges from group sessions in community settings to one-to-one interventions for people living in their own homes. Working across the arts their activities are designed to enhance and compliment individual care plans, and help people to feel part of their wider community.
We are also currently establishing partnerships outside London that will allow us to roll out a programme that includes intergenerational work, day-trips encompassing holiday themes and events that celebrate the areas and participants history.
Musical Memory Boxes
Musical Memory Boxes was run as part of Resonate programme at the Pullen Day Centre.
Each week the group made something for their memory box based on a different aspect of their personal histories. Run by Iris Musel and writer Sarah Lott, the sessions were full of poetry, stories and singing.
The boxes were showcased at the V&A Open day symposium around dementia, exhibited as part of Snapshot exhibition at Chelsea Theatre and at the Westminster Archives.
In conjunction to developing the interactive art installations that fall under the I am still here project we are keen to share our knowledge and promote a wider understanding on dementia by delivering more compact workshop packages that can be offered to a variety of age groups.
We often take a very playful approach to the work that we devise, as we believe that a bit of humour can leave a long lasting impact even when discussing a subject matter often considered quite heavy.
Simple activities we’ve created in the past that we’ve presented at events such as Pint of Science and Kings College Alzheimer’s Open Day, have included the use of mirrors, Hama beads, exercises from the ‘Mini-Mental State Exam’, texts and even cake. A handful of elements we’ll be integrating into the installations are also easily transferable to the workshop environments.
Though the activities have previously mainly been presented to an adult audience, their playful nature would very well be received by a younger audience and can easily be tailored to different age groups.
Workshops can be tailored for an afternoon or be extended to a more comprehensive two-day session. Depending on the time frame and the audience age group, workshops may entail some or all of the following components; each section in itself also being tailored to fit the group we’re working with (i.e. simplified for a younger audience).
1. General Overviw
We’d like to offer a general over on dementia including:
An introduction on what dementia is
What types of dementias there are
How people can be affected
Our work around dementia
To effectively communicate sensations associated with dementia, we aim for the activities to have a very direct impact on participants.
Below we’ve listed examples that will lend an idea of what types of activities might be integrated into a workshop. Please note that this is not a comprehensive list and that we have a few more activities stacked away on our ideas shelf that can contribute to tailoring the perfect workshop programme for its given audience.
The Power of Storytelling
Good storytelling no doubt has the power to create great empathy by drawing its audience into its characters’ world. Having been inspired by many stories we’ve read around dementia, it’s an element we believe will bring great value to a workshop. This may consist of reading only one extract to discuss with the group alongside other activities being offered. The possibility of creating a more comprehensive session around storytelling alone is also an option.
Dexterity & Spatial Awareness Activity
Participants are asked to recreate a pattern by placing Hama beads on a pegboard. Mirrors are added in order to create disassociation from the task being performed as well as spatial confusion on the distance and direction the hand has to follow in order to place the bead on the correct peg to reproduce the desired image.
Handling small beads, this exercise looks at dexterity plus how a change in spatial awareness can often hinder someone with dementia to recognise and locate objects in three dimensions (e.g. making it harder to pick things up or place them in a given location such as placing a peg to hang up washing).