Describe the main features of the policy/measure:
As reported in Australia’s previous Quadrennial Periodic Report, the Art and Dementia Program provides people living with dementia with an opportunity to connect with the world in enriching and life-enhancing ways.
A discussion-based tour of works of art provides intellectual stimulation and social inclusion. Participants are able to contribute knowledge, engage in interpretation, express emotions and recall memories. Participation can lead to an increase in wellbeing and quality of life.
Established in 2007, the Art and Alzheimer's program at the National Gallery of Australia was renamed in 2015 to reflect the many types of dementia. The Art and Dementia program includes a variety of tours to suit people with different living arrangements and capabilities. The National Gallery works closely with community-based health professionals, residential care providers and directly with people living with dementia in the community to provide the program.
The National Gallery of Australia developed the Art and Dementia Outreach program in 2009. The Outreach program delivers a two-day training workshop for arts and health professionals in communities across Australia to assist regional galleries to devise sustainable and appropriate Art and Dementia programs for the community. Between 2010 and 2019 the National Gallery delivered 4-6 training workshops each calendar year and held three national seminars with representatives from galleries in seven states and territories for professional development and networking. In 2014, Dementia Australia became a partner in delivering this outreach program. In 2017, the onsite program expanded to include artmaking in the National Gallery’s purpose-built Learning Studio which was then delivered to regional galleries.
In response to the restrictions in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19, the pilot online Art and Dementia program was delivered over 12 weeks from June to August 2020. In partnership with Dementia Australia, the program aimed to understand how people living with dementia who had previously visited the National Gallery for a facilitated tour would adjust to an online experience. The pilot found that all six participants developed confidence with the technology, participating actively and with evident enjoyment. Following the success of this model, the National Gallery is planning to introduce this offering as part of the Outreach program in 2021. During 2020 two online Art and Dementia outreach training workshops were delivered.
What are the results achieved so far through the implementation of the policy/measure?:
• Increased well-being and quality of life for participants;
• Increased confidence in participants in residual intellectual capacity and ability to engage with works of art;
• Increased sense of self in participants through opportunity to learn and reflect on knowledge and experience;
• Sustainable and supportive community arts and health partnerships;
• Increased emphasis on human rights and needs of people living with dementia;
• Normalisation of people living with dementia;
• Increase in local, regional and national galleries and museums with art and dementia programs;
• Extension of the outreach training program to include artmaking;
• International collaboration and exchange in the areas of training and online delivery; and
• An extension of the core principles of the Art and Dementia program into new areas such as mental health.
Financial resources allocated to the policy/measure in USD:
US$30,200 (A$40,000) per annum
If yes, what are the main conclusions/recommendations?:
During 2018, the University of Canberra (UC) conducted research to substantiate anecdotal and observational benefits of the Art and Dementia program recorded by National Gallery staff over the lifetime of the program. The Gallery worked with lead researcher and University of Canberra PhD candidate Nathan D’Cunha.
The research conducted by the University of Canberra confirmed that the Art and Dementia program reduces stress for participants and has widespread health benefits. Immersive or psychosocial activities such as participating in a facilitated discussion or artmaking workshop at the Gallery offers respite and distraction as well as relaxation which assists people to experience the physiological benefits of normalised cortisol levels. Based on this evidence, the Gallery continues to develop and deliver its onsite and outreach Art and Dementia program to expand the reach and benefits of the program to its national audience.