I am no stranger to working with people with dementia. I have already set up projects at 28 locations in a number of healthcare centres in the Netherlands. The projects vary from a ceiling painting with a diameter of 6 metres and big display cabinets filled with all kinds of works to a wardrobe of “Delft blue tiles” painted by residents. “Signed Dementia…” is the book published in conjunction with a film on the very first project, in collaboration with Marco Blom from Alzheimer Nederland.
It is essentially about the atmosphere of creativity in painting and drawing, in making contacts, and the enjoyment this brings. Extremely valuable for the residents, many of whom who mostly live in their own worlds. Being occupied evokes many stories from the past. The most wonderful creations are produced and it is often surprising what people with dementia get down on paper.
The aim of a project like this is to actively engage the residents, getting them to generate energy and capturing that energy in the home in works they create for themselves. The residents’ work must be treated as worthy of decorating a building.
The drawing and painting project, “Appealing to the Imagination” was made possible in collaboration with WVO Zorg Vlissingen. Residents from nursing homes including Ter Reede Vondellaan worked on drawings and paintings. They set to work with family, staff and volunteers. They also received supervision from one or two activity leaders. Beautiful abstract or sometimes highly-realistic drawings and paintings have been created. The designs I made for the spaces where the works have been hung served as a guideline for the drawing and painting.
The result is twelve works that bear witness to these wonderful efforts, given a permanent place in the nursing home.
Prior to the project, the activity leaders, staff and volunteers attended my WVO Zorg workshops. Topics that were dealt with included general information on drawing and painting, knowledge of materials and methodology, plus subjects such as stretching boundaries, how to guide and motivate people with dementia when drawing/painting, and how to gauge interest.
In the follow-up to the “Appealing to the Imagination” project, participants will be setting up their own projects at the seven WVO Zorg locations. I am coaching this project, with the objective of each home being able to autonomously set up projects in the future, thereby enriching the lives of the residents, staff, family members and volunteers.