A Shared Experience Copy

I had expected the four bullets at the bottom to match the next four Lessons. A couple are a different order and different titles, but was that the intent?

Family members, friends, or other companions are an important part of a person with dementia’s participation in a program like Artful Moments. Remember as well that while not every participant needs extra support from bringing someone else with them, for many having a friend or family member working with them in a shared experience adds to their success and enjoyment. This is true for the friends and family too – the pleasure of sharing experiences with their loved one is very meaningful. Attending with someone can offer participants support in travelling to and from a program, in wayfinding, and even as a helper in conversations or studio activities. For virtual programs, they may assist with technology needs as well.

Depending on the participant’s comfort and ability, participants may also feel very comfortable and capable in joining a program independently, taking pleasure in both the program activities themselves and the social relationships that develop among the other participants and staff.

In Module 1, we described our initial motivation to include a loved one in our pilot program for participants in the middle to late stages of dementia. We hoped that a second set of hands to help with studio activities, a person who was familiar with the participant would allow us to offer a meaningful program that engaged each person’s remaining strengths while not being limited by changes in other abilities. In the end we did see all of this, but we also saw so much more. We saw loved ones connecting fondly in a moment of reminiscence or enjoyment. We saw thoughtful co-creation of artworks. We saw communication that took advantage of the different subjects, materials, and modes of expression that we presented through the use of art. We saw enjoyable moments for the friends and family members that were completely removed from any care-based activity, offering them engagement, respite, and social connection.

It was these observations that solidified our commitment to consider both people as partners in the experience, to work to support relationship-building, and to teach supportive strategies to the friend or family member while we worked. In all of our programs we welcome pairs or couples to attend, along with others who prefer to attend on their own.

That being said, there are a few considerations to keep in mind when working with care partners.

  • Balancing engagement between the participant with dementia and the care partner 
  • Managing expectations
  • What participation with a partner looks like – parallel engagement, co-creation and collaboration, directed creation, engaged observer
  • Modelling supportive and assistive strategies
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