HammondCare is trialing a one-on-one ‘Arts on Prescription at home’ program targeting people living with dementia as part of its home care package program.

Dr Claire O’Connor

The research project, being conducted with $50,000 of funding by the Dementia Centre for Research Collaboration,  aims to boost wellbeing and social connection as part of a reablement approach.

Similar arts on prescription programs have traditionally been conducted in group settings. However, this trial will see artists visiting clients at home for direct engagement in painting, singing, acting and dancing.

Artists involved in the program will undergo dementia awareness training with HammondCare’s Dementia Centre.

 “We believe this program could become a sustainable way to help people living at home with dementia to gain social engagement and a sense of achievement through participating in their preferred art form,” lead researcher Dr Claire O’Connor from the Centre for Positive Ageing says.

Social interaction and a sense of achievement

A preliminary study suggested the program improved social interaction as well as giving participants a sense of achievement from the creation of an original artwork and a distraction from everyday worries.

There is increasing evidence that involvement in the arts can support wellbeing and help break down the barriers of dementia.

However, HammondCare Head of Research and Aged Care Clinical Services Professor Chris Poulos says  more work is needed if it’s to be established as a routinely available service.

“This is an exciting opportunity to bring joy into the homes of people living with dementia – a vital need highlighted by the Aged Care Royal Commission,” he said in a statement.

He says he hopes the research project will support the implement of a sustainable program withing existing service models and sources of funding.

One of HammondCare’s independent living residents, Helen Greenup, has participated in Arts on Prescription painting classes and has given it the thumbs up for being extendedinto peoples’ homes.

“These classes take me away from the worries and thoughts that go through my mind,” she says.

“I find that after two hours of doing a painting class I am relaxed and recharged. It’s great.”

Image: Helen Greenup attends an Arts on Prescription painting class with HammondCare artist Annette Innis.

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