National Gallery of Australia’s Art and Dementia Program
People living with dementia often become isolated. The main aims of the measure are to:
- Promote wellbeing and quality of life through engagement with the visual arts
- Provide intellectual stimulation in a socially inclusive environment
- Reconnect people living with dementia to their sense of identity
- Build community arts and health partnerships to improve the care for people living with dementia
- Raise awareness of and reduce the social stigma associated with dementia.
The National Gallery of Australia runs the Art and Dementia program, which provides people living with dementia with an opportunity to connect with the world in enriching and
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 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.
- Increased well-being and quality of life
- Increased confidence in residual intellectual capacity and ability to engage with works of art
- Increased sense of self 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
- Normalising of people living with dementia
- Increase in local, regional and national galleries and museums with art and dementia programs
In total A$875,000 (between 2007-2017) has been allocated to implement the measure made up of funding from a mix of government and private sources.
The 2007 Pilot program was evaluated by Clinical Psychologist, Dr Mike Bird, and published in the journal Aging and Mental Health Vol. 13 No 5, September 2009, 744-752 An Art Gallery Access Program for people with dementia: ‘You do it for the moment’.
The Outreach Program is evaluated through a written process and through three national seminars, the onsite program is evaluated by partner organisations and through interviews with participants and carers.
The main conclusions were participating in visual arts based activities reduces agitation and anxiety and increases feelings of wellbeing and the quality of life for people living with dementia and their carers.