Since 2014, visitors with dementia have become regulars at QAGOMA via our Art and Dementia program. Dementia-friendly tours employ contemporary person-centred care approaches, with the key principles of reminiscence, validation and socialisation being at the heart of the 60-minute visit. Most importantly, the program enables people with dementia to be active and engaged within a community setting.
Art engages communities and people within it, including people living with dementia.
During September for Dementia Awareness Month, we extended our regular program and scheduled additional tours, including one for World Alzheimer’s Day on 21 September. Four specially selected paintings from ‘Namatjira Story’ that represent Albert Namatjira’s country were explored during the tour. The unique beauty of Australia’s landscape provided a vehicle for wonderful dialogue, with the surrounding visual aesthetics stimulating self-expression and lifting the mood of the group. Participants were able to reconnect their own thoughts and memories with the present moment and those around them.
Through shared narratives, the artwork becomes the stimulus which enables participants in the tour the opportunity to contribute knowledge, reflect on life experiences, express ideas, or simply appreciate something different. Visitors with dementia are encouraged to shape the direction of the tour, which acknowledges and validates their abilities and preferences. There is a sense of achievement, normality and pleasure felt by all who attend the program; caregivers comment that they enjoy the shared social experience that extends beyond their daily care responsibilities, which can be isolating.
With your reimagined Australian collection now open at the Queensland Art Gallery, we can renew acquaintances with much-loved favourites such as Vida Lahey’s ‘Monday Morning’. We are privileged to be able to use the Collection as a platform for the Art and Dementia program and tailor sensory-based experiences to support the psychosocial well-being of our visitors with dementia.
Art and Dementia program
Tours are available throughout the year for people with dementia living in the community, for day respite groups and residential aged care homes.
Debbie Brittain is Project Officer, QAGOMA Learning