This group of participants who are residents in a care setting and are in the later stages of dementia visited the gallery monthly for a year, and we worked with five participants. Due to the complex needs of the participants and the program, our program included nearly 20 people in the end – participants and family members, a hospital staff person for each participant, as well as research observers, the facility manager, and two AGH facilitators.
As a facilitator, the focus was mainly on the five participants and to a slightly lesser degree their family members. The rest, we mostly ignored, so in reality we were working with a group of 10 people. At the time we were focused on the person with dementia and we initially saw the family member as an extra support, a pair of hands to help with communication and studio work, though this pairing of loved ones led to much more significant social outcomes. We carefully guided the participants through responding to questions, one at a time in their preferred mode of communication (some verbal, some with gestures). We also included the family members by encouraging them to share. It took time and patience. Each of the participants had an opportunity to participate often, but each had to wait and listen until their turn. Because of the time it took to guide each participant in contributing to the conversation, and the number of people in the program spaces, we felt that five was the maximum size for this kind of group.