There is a growing body of research evidence on the connections between art and health and wellbeing, but I have known all my life about the "feel good" effect from participating in art making, particularly drawing. After witnessing both of my parents' heartbreaking transition into aged care, I knew there was more that could be done to improve the quality of life for the elderly. So I began a PhD project to study the potential of drawing as a healthy endeavour for people with dementia.
After gathering data from the participants and the organisation, I designed and developed the Drawing Memories Program, customising the activities for a diverse range of (dis)abilities. The program was implemented and tested over 12 weeks in two Uniting Care Aged Care facilities. Everyone was blown away by the outcomes.
The effects that art making had on their wellbeing was profound.
Challenging activities and digital technology were introduced with amazing responses.
My research was one of the first to study the potential of drawing apps and their usability for cognitive and physically challenged people.
These images show a variety of activities and outcomes, including the process and unveiling of the "Night of the Stars" mural. The mural was created on 24 individual canvas pieces across the two facilities, then sewn together as one piece. Each person made their own interpretation from a section of Vincent Van Gogh's "Starry Night".
This research was a pilot study where I gained such invaluable information with the potential for further research into the health benefits of making art. My greatest desire is to receive a grant or funding to collaborate with other researchers or organisations, and do further studies on art and dementia. There is such a huge need for research in this area, and also with people living with other cognitive and physical disabilities, including those with ASD and ADHD.