What are the elements needed to create an effective visual art intervention for people with dementia? A qualitative exploration

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Dementia, Ahead of Print.
BackgroundThis article aimed to advance the understanding of ‘what works’ in visual art interventions from the perspective of key stakeholders, including people with dementia, their family members and visual art professionals.MethodSemi-structured interviews were conducted with 22 participants, exploring their perceptions on barriers, facilitators, perceived benefits, experiences of delivering/attending a visual art intervention and any recommendations for implementation.ResultsFive factors were identified within the interviews that indicated important considerations for intervention structure and implementation, including benefits of group work, a skilled facilitator, participant choice, artistic ability and activity content. While art therapists expressed a clear protection of professional boundaries, the success of all of the visual art interventions was largely attributed to the supportive facilitator who possessed certain core values such as empathy and compassion and had knowledge in both artistic practice and the impact of living with dementia. It was clear the group dynamic was valued, and it was important to provide enjoyable, failure-free activity content with a strong focus on the creative process.ConclusionThese findings offer a direction for evidence-based practice when implementing visual art interventions.

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