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Drawing Memories: An empowering and enjoyable aged care activity promoting confidence, independence and engagement

Research Type: 
Date of Publication: 
1 January 2018
Margaret Rolla - University of Newcastle
Michael Dickinson - University of Newcastle
Dimity Pond - University of Newcastle

This paper is part of a larger ongoing doctoral research project titled, Art for Health's Sake. It presents the outcomes from the “Drawing Memories” program, developed and implemented with the aim of promoting quality of life indicators for elderly people in aged care. Appropriate drawing material and media choices, with their role in providing experimentation and enjoyment, was a key aspect of the professionally designed program. As a pilot study, the “Drawing Memories” program was conducted across two aged care services, both residential and community, in NSW Australia. The research questioned the useability, practicalities and therapeutic potential of various drawing media and activities designed for elderly people with diverse physical and cognitive impairments. Taking an artist's/educator's approach, the study employed a phenomenology/heuristic framework, used in conjunction with quantitative evaluation measures, to form a mixed methods enquiry into the lived experiences of the participants. The focus of this paper is on the choice of activities, materials and media and how the participants responded to them. Through the exploration of various media it was found that the participants’ confidence, independence and engagement improved while undertaking the drawing activities. An interesting outcome was the Apple iPad, rating highly in useability and enjoyment.