As we described previously, our initial work focused on demonstrating engagement – capturing the participants attention and interest in arts-based activities, and encouraging them to participate in ‘talking’ about and making art. Our participants were living with mid- to late-stage dementia and had begun to experience significant changes in their abilities. We felt that if we could provide engagement, and enjoyment ‘in-the-moment’ it would offer a meaningful impact on their lives. We invited family members to participate in the program as well, imagining that they would be able to offer assistance to their loved one.
We saw engagement – and so much more. In most pairs we saw two people who had experienced life and love together reconnecting over shared activities. The program helped the family member see their loved one having positive and meaningful experiences. Looking back, we realize that we were seeing improved wellbeing right from the start!
Several years later while working with people living in the community, we began to look more closely at the social potential of Artful Moments, and the impact that shared experiences could have on participants’ lives. When COVID-19 restrictions and lock downs took effect, and we began to connect isolated participants through virtual programs we began to hear and to seek out feedback about how important those shared experiences were for all of our participants.
With the experiences and research collected over the past ten years, we realized that while engagement was essential in making connections, the impact was something more. Artful Moments was improving participants well being.
But… what does that mean?