By Kelly Matheson, Administrative Assistant —
In the spring of 2018, Kendal at Granville started a new Ohio-approved quality initiative called Opening Minds Through Art (OMA) with its residents. As noted on the OMA website, the initiative is a failure-free program providing opportunities for creative self-expression and social engagement for people with dementia.
OMA also gives volunteers opportunities to change their attitudes toward aging through weekly interaction with residents with memory problems by relying on the residents’ imaginations instead of memories, so the focus is on their remaining strengths instead of on lost skills. OMA enables people with dementia to assume new roles as artists and teachers and leave a legacy of beautiful artwork. Founded by Dr. Elizabeth Lokon in 2007, OMA is based on person-centered care principles.
Opening Minds Through Art is based on person-centered care principles
OMA has been a very rewarding experience for me, as a volunteer for the program, as well as a health center employee. I don’t always get to take the time I would like to spend one-on-one with our residents, as the Administrative Assistant in the health center. However, through OMA I had the privilege to get to know residents on a more personal level.
I was able to see smiles on residents’ faces who normally showed little to no emotion. I saw personalities, laughter and memories come to life that are difficult for residents to express sometimes. We sang familiar songs, including “You are My Sunshine” and “This Little Light of Mine” to signify the beginning and end of the weekly session.
The finished art—and names the residents gave to their artwork—was nothing short of amazing! At the end of the 10 weeks, we invited the artists, volunteers, families, friends, residents and staff to celebrate in their accomplishments at an art show. Fellow staff and residents were delighted to see the great artwork, as well as the enjoyment on the residents faces.
In the fall we continued OMA with a few of the same residents and volunteers. Several new residents were added along with volunteers from our independent living community. This session is not yet over, but we continue to experience the same great outcomes with new art projects, while our residents experience a means of creative self-expression.