Holding eternity in an hour: A practical exploration of the arts in the health care of older people with dementia

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

This project involved creative artists working with older people with dementia and staff from two Belfast Health and Social Care Trust supported housing centres in a mixed programme of dance, painting, music and drama which culminated in an open workshop with relatives and friends of the tenants. The study steered away from traditional medical models of art/music/dance therapy where the participant is perceived as a ‘patient’ in favour of identifying the participant as a ‘student’ who avails of a life-long learning experience. A key premise was that access to the arts is a human right, especially in the context of advancing age and cognitive impairment. . According to one the tenants of Mullan Mews, the project served to ‘awaken - or reawaken - folk with dementia to the endless vista of possibility already in their lives if they will only look for it’. A phenomenographic analysis of video data generated by the project emphasises the importance of the individual experiences of participants in the programme. The evidence from these storylines gained strength from the development of a documentary-style film text that has proved successful in capturing and translating the live experience of the project participants into a supportive text that goes beyond the written word.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)237-255
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Applied Arts and Health
Volume2
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2012

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