Objectives: Using art and reminiscence as a non-pharmacological therapies (NPTs) for persons living with dementia has much promise in particular addressing the issue Behavioral and psychological symptoms of dementia (BPSD). O’Connor et al., 2009 talk of the non-specific benefits of NPTs as providing personal engagement, connectedness and respite from over-stimulation or boredom.
Researchers have sought to define NPTs efficacy, its optimal conditions for use and how to best broadly implemented NPTs into faciliities and as assessment tools that direct care provision in terms of QOL and ADLs.
Implementation poses a problem in Taiwan as we don’t have people specifically designated to deliver the above promise of NPTs instead having a variety of positions (OTs, social workers, RNs, nurse aides) which compromises holistic outcomes.
Undergraduate Health Management students with specialisation in long term care may be best placed to take on NPTs within their statement of duties and be accepted by the industry as a new designation, a Recreation Activity Officer (RAO).
These students in recent years have had access to six 6 hour introductory therapy workshops aimed to create interest and assist them in becoming RAOs as industry recognition increases. Our hope is that ongoing training will become requested and provided as the demand arises whilst RAO positions become consolidated.
Our visual art course is the focus of our presentaton. It in common the other 5 courses is underpinned by a philosophy of person centered care and the concept of the ‘embodied selfhood’ Kontos (2004, 2005) whilst drawing upon the visual arts combined with group reminiscence therapy. Key outcomes highlighted for participants are that of active participation, improved communication, memory stimulation and emotional expression.The course has strong instructional design elements that aims for students to become an art facilitators in the running and design of their own programs.
Prime elements of the course focus upon understanding the production for art in general, from aesthetics, choice and use of materials, variation of outcomes and meaning attached to the artworks. The realities of the cost of materials and participant’s capabilities tied to the social group dynamics are discussed. The facilitator’s role of working with and drawing upon class aides together with focal participants creates an experience synergy to support waivering participants.
The activities are designed to be a failure-free in that there are no outcomes measures against which to be judged, rather the choice of materials such as cut out recognisable shapes or printed images for collage creates recognitions and a sense of success.
In conclusion our goal is to have an acceptance of RAO positions where NPTs become an assessment and therapeutic tool for dementia that influences care provision inside and outside therapy.