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P19. Art and dementia

Detailed programme and abstracts

The last decade attention for the use of Art in dementia has increased significantly. A variety of visual and creative art work is provided to people with dementia living in long term care settings to offer them the opportunity to engage in meaningful activities. Also for community dwelling people with dementia the involvement in visual and creative art activities is being increasingly facilitated by, for example, different programmes offered by museums and art activities in day care settings, such as Meeting Centres for people with dementia and their carers.

In this session research into different types of art work available for community dwelling people with dementia and people living in long term care settings will be discussed. The results of two recently finished large multi-site research projects 'Dementia and Imagination' and the 'Unforgettable museum program' conducted in the UK and the Netherlands respectively will be presented. Themes to be discussed are: What categories of art can be distinguished and are applicable? How are they appreciated by people with dementia? Does severity of dementia make a difference to which types of art are appreciated by people? What is needed to successfully implement art activities? How can technology facilitate the implementation of art activities in different care settings? Does art contribute to the social participation of people with dementia and to a more dementia friendly society? Actions needed to effectively transfer the knowledge gained in research to care practice and to the larger community, so that more people with dementia and carers can benefit from them, will be discussed with the participants in this session.

Organised by the INTERDEM Taskforce Social Health in Dementia

P19.1. Classification and description: A taxonomy of arts interventions for people with dementia


Background: Taxonomy is the science of classification. It notices and names distinct and similar species, generating understanding, context and order across the natural world. The multi-disciplinary field of the arts and dementia is varied, dynamic and unchartered. Producing a taxonomy of arts interventions for people with dementia will help to define and describe this diverse practice by mapping the categories and component parts of creative activities.

This presentation introduces the aims and purposes of taxonomy, outlines existing classifications in music, and suggests how a taxonomy of arts interventions could benefit a range of stakeholders, including practitioners, funders and researchers. Developing a common language for analysis, reflection and communication is balanced with a unique and personal application of the arts.

Methods: This study was undertaken using a qualitative framework derived from Realist methodology. Its results are drawn from a literature review, focus groups, Nominal Group Technique workshops, a case study and a three stage Delphi study.

Results: Findings suggest a taxonomy of arts interventions for people with dementia has a number of dimensions. Nine principles, and their descriptive features, were consistently identified as creative values that are present in arts interventions: Animation, Transcendence, Selfhood, Humanity, Expression, Connection, Possibility, Involvement, Awareness. Five additional dimensions – arts modality, artistic characteristics, circumstances, competencies and artistic focus – describe other relevant qualities of arts interventions. The Delphi study also explored expert consensus regarding the term taxonomy, and whether other concepts might be more suitable for expressing different domains of artistic practice.

Conclusion: The presentation will close with a summary and suggestions for the application of a taxonomy of arts interventions for people with dementia. Identifying the similarities and differences between arts interventions eases their complexity, which enables reflection on their diverse elements, locations and methods of engagement. A high-quality intervention for people with dementia is the ultimate goal of the taxonomy.

P19.2. Dementia and Imagination: A mixed-methods longitudinal investigation of the impact of a visual arts programme on quality of life

WINDLE Gill, JOLING Karlijn, VAN DE VEN Peter, WOODS Bob, HOWSON Teri, JONES Catrin Hedd, NEWMAN Andrew, PARKINSON Clive, on behalf of the Dementia and Imagination Research team

Despite considerable practice innovations for the arts in dementia care, research reviews identify that in many instances the benefits are often insufficient and tentative, especially for visual arts activities. This is attributed to design limitations in some studies, uncertainty about which methods and measures are most appropriate, limited attention to the theoretical basis of interventions, and also because ‘the field is still in its infancy’ (Zeilig et al., 2014) requiring further research development. This presentation highlights some of the work of ‘Dementia and Imagination’ a large arts and science collaboration responding to research gaps.

Reflecting the Medical Research Council framework for evaluating interventions, we first undertook a theoretical exploration of the ‘active ingredients’ to understand how visual art interventions might ‘work’ and lead to positive outcomes, which informed our intervention development. The intervention was evaluated through a mixed-methods longitudinal design, and explored through practice led inquiry. The study included N=125 people living with mild to severe dementia and N=146 staff and family carers across three research settings in England and Wales (residential care homes, NHS wards and community venues). The participants’ mean age=81.4 (SD=8.5), 58% were female and CDR scores ranged from 0.5 (questionable) to 3 (severe).

The results highlight the potential for creative ageing within dementia care and the benefits of art activities for quality of life. However the presentation will illustrate, using qualitative, quantitative, observational data and film, contradictions in outcomes between the different methods of data collection. This raises a) methodological challenges for further research b) provokes debate about how ‘evidence based practice’ is interpreted and applied in service commissioning, and c) how we can encourage dementia care providers and arts and cultural services to work towards embedding art activities within routine care provision.

P19.3. The ‘Unforgettable’ museum programme for people with dementia and their carers; final results of the implementation in Dutch museums

          HENDRIKS Iris, MEILAND Franka, DRÖES Rose-Marie  

Introduction: The Dutch Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam and Van Abbemuseum Eindhoven offer interactive museum tours for people with dementia and carers according to the example of MoMA in New York. Because of the success of this ‘Unforgettable’ programme in these two museums, the programme was implemented in 10 other museums across the Netherlands. This implementation was evaluated among participants and museum staff by scientific research.

Method: Participants experience and appreciation of the programme were assessed by the ‘Smiley Face Assessment Scale’ and a ‘take home’ survey. During the tours participants were observed to investigate how they reacted to different types of art works. To investigate the program’s impact on the museum staff, a questionnaire on attitudes to dementia was administered before and after implementation. To inventory factors that facilitated or impeded the implementation, key-figures in the implementation were interviewed.

Results: The mood of persons with dementia and their caregivers appeared improved immediately after the end of the tour compared to before the tour (PWD,p=0.02;d=0.27;CG,p=0.005;d=0.39). The Unforgettable programme was positively evaluated by the participants. Social interaction appeared a key factor in the appreciation of the programme. Artefacts led to more active reactions than art works (F(1,303)=11.08;p=0.001). The museum staff increased their understanding of dementia (p=0.00;d=0.48) and became more optimistic about the capacities and future of people with dementia (p=0.04;d=0.15). Implementation of the Unforgettable program in different museums appeared well feasible. Careful selection of museum guides and continuous promotion of the programme were found to be important facilitators for successful implementation.

Discussion & conclusion: The results of this implementation study may support further implementation of Unforgettable and similar programmes and contribute to enhancement of social participation of people with dementia in society.

Acknowledgements:Main sponsor of the project: Gieskes Strijbis Foundation, additional study sponsors: Stichting Hofje Codde & Van Beresteyn, VSB fonds.

P19.4. Awakened Art Stories – lessons learned from the Swiss museum project for persons living with dementia and their caregivers


Background: «Awakened Art Stories» is the first creative expression intervention study in Switzerland conducted by the University of Zurich in cooperation with the Alzheimer Association of the Canton of Zurich et al. It animates persons with dementia (PWDs) to invent creative stories based on open-ended questions about paintings at four Swiss art museums by using a method inspired by the TimeSlips storytelling-method of Anne Bastings.

Method: During 2013-2014, 48 creative storytelling sessions were held at Swiss art museums. Participants were PWDs (n=60) with medium to advanced cognitive impairment. The satisfaction with the program as well as the effectiveness regarding emotions and resources (e.g. well-being, caregiver burden) were tested with a semi-structured questionnaire and the Observed Emotion Rating Scale involving all caregiver-patient dyads (n=20). Additionally focus groups with volunteer workers (n=5) were conducted.

Results: The findings provided evidence that participation in a creative storytelling program at a museum enhances mood, concentration and communication skills with PWDs. Analyses revealed increased positive affect and patience in caregivers and an enhancement of positive interactions of caregiver-patient dyads. No significant differences in caregiver burden were found. In addition, volunteer’s attitude toward persons with dementia improved.

Translation into practice: Since 2014 the method has been taken up by several Swiss and German art museums and advanced experiences have been made which will be shared at the session. In addition a short documentary film clip will demonstrate the setting and impact of such sessions.

Conclusions: This Swiss museum project demonstrates the many benefits of making art accessible to people with dementia and their caregivers. There have been lessons learned from both regarding effects and implementation aspects that will be discussed.

Reference: Loizeau, A., Kündig, Y. & Oppikofer, S. (2016). ‘Awakened Art Stories’ – Rediscovering pictures by persons living with dementia utilising TimeSlips: A pilot study. Geriatric Mental Health Care, 3(2), 13-20.

P19.5. Using touch-screen technology to enable arts and crafts for people with dementia in residential care


Background: People with dementia that live in care facilities can experience loss of independence and autonomy, having restricted access to meaningful activities. These could contribute to a decrease in their quality of life, and being perceived as loss of control of their own lives. Through visual arts related activities, as painting and drawing, people can experience the feeling of control, while stimulating cognition and social abilities, and being reminded of their creativity and identity. Though, the creation of art is not always possible in care homes, as it would require art material and additional staff to facilitate the process. A possible solution for these barriers is using creative art apps in touch screen technology. Art creation activities in touch screen technology could show similar effects as art creation with regular tools, as they also make people engage and stimulate cognition and creativity, but without the need of specific art materials and facilities. The aim of this research is to identify the best touchscreen apps on digital arts for people with dementia living in residential care and to pilot study their effectiveness.

Method: An online cross-country survey in care homes in the UK, Sweden and the Netherlands will be used to inventory the use of technology that enables arts and crafts for people with dementia and which art apps are more popular and used. Subsequently, people with dementia will participate in a pilot study (randomized controlled design) using the most promising apps to investigate the intervention effects on overall well-being, quality of life and cognition.

Conclusion: The study is part of the Marie Sklodowska Curie INDUCT project on technology and dementia, which aims to provide the evidence to show how technology can improve the lives of people with dementia. Results of the study are expected in autumn 2019.



Last Updated: Monday 23 October 2017


  • Acknowledgements

    The 27th AE Conference in Berlin received funding under an operating grant from the European Union’s Health Programme (2014-2020). Alzheimer Europe and Deutsche Alzheimer Gesellschaft e.V. gratefully acknowledge the support of all conference sponsors.
  • European Union
  • Roche