Laurie – If this becomes a video, the sentence from the third to last paragraph that says “You can learn more about the team (HERE)” should be removed from the script.

You have now completed Module 2: Understanding the Participant. In this module we introduced you to the focus of our program, the people who join your programs, sometimes with a friend or family member. Our own experiences with loved ones in our early programs solidified the power of this program to foster social connection. We remember that while our participants have been diagnosed with dementia, this does not define them, and we continually remind ourselves to put the person first in our words and actions. 

We delved deeply into dementia – what it is and what impacts it can have on a person. We learned about the changes that can happen in five key areas: cognition, language, perception, mood and emotions, and physical abilities. Within each there are specific components that are affected by dementia, leading to observable changes in a person’s abilities. This knowledge will guide your work throughout the design, delivery and evaluation of your program, and we will apply it in subsequent modules.

In some cases, this knowledge forms a kind of background reference for facilitators, helping you to understand the experiences you have with your participants, and to implement strategies to support them if and as needed. It is a kind of ‘tool kit’ that you draw on to respond to need. In other cases, there are specific changes in ability that you will begin to automatically act on – things like remembering to pause and leave time for participants to process what they have heard or wish to say.

We talked about the strengths that are preserved well into a person’s journey with dementia, and how important it is to maintain a positive approach with positive language in your program. We talk about ways of supporting abilities rather than focusing on what can’t be done. And we remember the power of creative activity and of communication in many different forms to empower participants to engage in activities, relationships and public institutions like museums, regardless of the changes in their ability that they may be experiencing.

The knowledge contained in this module comes from the combined experience and expertise of the Artful Moments team. We have endeavored to present information at a depth that we feel is useful or necessary to support confident and effective facilitators while still being accessible and emphasizing non-medical contexts. 

There are many resources available if you would like to learn more about dementia or any of the concepts presented here, some of which are included in the materials section of this module. This module is a reference that you can use to learn from, but also to return to for troubleshooting and further growth.  Your application and understanding will grow with practice. As we progress through subsequent modules we will return again and again to the knowledge included here. 

Congratulate yourself for working through some heavy material in this module. We will see you in Module 3: Understanding the Environment, as we begin our application of this knowledge!