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Why should art sessions be included in aged care homes?

One aged care home in Queensland is helping its residents through art therapy sessions.

<p>Margaret and Rita are some of the artists involved in the program at Tricare’s Mt Gravatt Aged Care Residence [Source: supplied]</p>

Margaret and Rita are some of the artists involved in the program at Tricare’s Mt Gravatt Aged Care Residence [Source: supplied]

Key points

  • In Queensland, an aged care home is incorporating regular art sessions to help residents connect with each other
  • Engaging in the art sessions is helpful for aged care residents to find purpose and make time for themselves

 

In Queensland, Tricare’s Mt Gravatt Aged Care Residence invites its residents to participate in weekly arts and crafts sessions, with more than just art creation in mind. 

While engaging in art activities can provide satisfaction as there is often an end product, this program aims to facilitate communication and reduce feelings of isolation in the residents. Loneliness affects many older people, with over 40 percent of residents surveyed having stated that they experience loneliness at some point, according to one study.

Introducing an arts program such as this aims to reduce the effects associated with isolation and loneliness, especially if residents’ families don’t visit regularly. Researchers of one study concluded that an increase in loneliness and solitude in aged care homes is likely to reduce the quality of life of the affected older people.

The importance of such work and arts engagement cannot be underestimated. Researchers highlight the value of group art therapy with older people in aged care homes, as participants in one study were found to have reduced depressive symptoms, a greater sense of purpose as well as improved mental cognition

Residents at Tricare’s Mt Gravatt Aged Care Residence share the personal impacts of weekly art classes, including long-time resident, Rita Herman. At the age of 82, Rita enjoys working with beads and spends many hours engaging in the activity.

“I love taking the time out of my day to sit and focus on my artwork. I could spend hours painting or beading and not realise the time that has gone by,” said Rita.

While passing the time productively and enjoyably are some of the residents’ goals, others use the time to spend with their loved ones at the aged care home. Margaret Whannell, who is 89 years old, understands that connecting with others is important, regardless of their speaking ability.

“[My husband] became unable to communicate verbally, so doing art beside him was a way to spend time together without having to talk,” Margaret said.

While Margaret values the quality time with her husband, she also finds that the sessions allow her to take a break from daily stresses.

“These sessions also allow me to take time for myself each week and do something I really enjoy. My mental well-being has improved so much since I started,” said Margaret.

The volunteers of the art therapy program also see the benefits for the aged care residents, especially when art pieces are completed and displayed around the home. One volunteer art instructor, Joy Noon, expressed her feelings when the residents were working on their art projects.

“There’s something so heart-warming about watching the residents dedicate so much time and energy into their art and having it all come together,” said Joy.

The value of the art sessions extends past the time spent in class, as artworks created by residents at Tricare’s Mt Gravatt Aged Care Residence are placed in prominent areas around the home. Not only does this spark conversation between residents, but resident artists, such as Rita, can see how their work positively impacts others.

“I put a lot of love into my artwork, so seeing them displayed on the walls and having people appreciate them brings me such joy,” said Rita.

 

What other activities would you like to have in your aged care home?

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Relevant content:

Eggs, eggs and more eggs: health benefits for older Australians

Major concerns raised with the Aged Care Act Exposure draft

New link between Alzheimer’s disease and spatial awareness issues

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