Harnessing the Arts for Wellbeing in mental Health and Social Care (Museums Art & Alzheimer's)
 
Erasmus+ KA2 – Cooperation for Innovation and the Exchange of Good Practices
Strategic Partnerships for Adult Education
 
Project duration: 01/09/2015 – 30/08/2017
 
The objective of the project Museums Art & Alzheimer'sis to develop educational activities aimed at improving the welfare of people with Alzheimer's and their caregivers, also contributing to trigger a change in the social perception of the disease. What a person with Alzheimer's basically needs is a caregiver who can take care of him, and a society that is dementia-friendly.
 
Actually most of the symptoms of dementia are not a direct result of the disease, but they depend on the inability to adequately respond to the demands of the outside world (excess disabilities). To obtain a gain from the point of view of the welfare of a person with dementia, it appears necessary to bridge the gap between its enormous residual capacity (at any level greater than apparent: observation skills, emotional intelligence, relationship skills, creativity and even expressive skills and communication, although not always through verbal language) and the difficulty, for caregivers, to adjust their methods of communication and their relational demands on the changed conditions of the people in their care.
It is essential therefore to focus not on the needs and abilities of the patient, but on those of the dyad patient-caregiver.
 
Therefore, objectives of project Museums Art & Alzheimer's are:
a) help caregivers to establish a suitable relationship (educational relationship) developing a communication, as effective as possible, through a guided reflection, verified in an experiential way, about all the possible modes of communication (verbal, nonverbal, gestural, corporal, facial expressions, touch, movement...), explored from encounters with art in museums.
b) at the same time, the project Museums Art & Alzheimer's wants to train museum educators and educators engaged in the geriatric field to enable them to develop museum access programs suitable for individuals living with dementia and their caregivers.
 
The benefit of working with art is demonstrated by the experience gained: the museum projects for people with dementia have shown the effectiveness of artistic experience (understood as a complex cultural experience, ranging from the encounter with the works of art to creative and expressive activities).
 
Specific objective is the creation of educational resources aimed at educators and caregivers.
A group of around 320 people, including museum educators, geriatric educators, caregivers and people with dementia, will be involved in each country in the process of developing, evaluating and finalizing the educational material. A considerably bigger number will be reached through multiplier events and dissemination activities.
 
A joint staff event will be held in Florence to share skills and experiences and develop a model for a museum program dedicated to people with Alzheimer's, focusing on the caregiver.
Later, the model will be experimented at local level by each partner.
 
Building on the results of experimentation, the project will produce two intellectual outputs:
- A4A online course about how to design and build museum programs for people with dementia with special attention to the caregivers;
- on-line manual dedicated to family and professional caregivers and museum educators, on how to communicate with people with dementia through art.
Multiplier events will be organized in each partner country with the goal of promoting the educational resources created in Museums Art & Alzheimer's.
 
The conference will also provide a visit to the museum host, where working methods will be illustrated in a practical way to attendees.
 
Main results of the project are:
- course for educators and handbook for families;
- training of a group of 24 people as part of the an experimental training program for educators
- another group of 10 caregivers from each country will use the handbook and evaluate it
- improved skills in using e-learning for participant institutions
- positive impact is expected on participants in the pilot run: improved well-being, better communication skills with patients, social inclusion
- contribution to building a "dementia-friendly" society
 
As a consequence of the project, it is to be expected that methodologies about improving communication between caregivers and patients through activities based on art will become more widespread and object of further development.
 
Project partners:
Fondazione Marini San Pancrazio (Italy)
Euridea (Italy)
Kilkenny Art Gallery Society Limited (Ireland)
Socialiniai meno projektai (Lithuania)
VšĮ Žmogiškųjų išteklių stebėsenos ir plėtros biuras (Lithuania)
Stiftung Wilhelm Lehmbruck Museum (Germany)