An innovative program between Health Infrastructure, the Art Gallery of New South Wales, and Murrumbidgee Local Health District (MLHD) will provide aged care residents living in three newly opened Multipurpose Service sites access to quality arts engagement experiences.
The pilot initiative is funded as part of the NSW Government $297 million Multipurpose Service (MPS) program, providing improved access to health and aged care services in rural and remote communities.
Modelled on similar Art Gallery of NSW programs for people with a lived experience of dementia, the program has a social and cultural approach and provides a meaningful way for aged care residents to connect with others, in particular during periods of isolation due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The new arts and health program will provide an opportunity for rural NSW aged care residents to enjoy quality art experiences, trigger memory and stimulate new conversations with their families and health professionals.
The program reduces reliance on pharmacological approaches within residential aged care settings. Research indicates engagement with the arts for those living with dementia, stimulates brain function resulting in improved speech, which is important for communication with families, staff and residents to engage with each other. This has positive impacts on some of the behavioural impacts of a diagnosis of dementia.
Rebecca Wark, Chief Executive, Health Infrastructure thanked the Art Gallery of NSW and Murrumbidgee Local Health District for working with Health Infrastructure to develop this important arts and health outreach program.
“It is a an effective arts integration program that delivers a complete package of works curated by expert staff at the Art Gallery of NSW, accompanied by training for health professionals by Gallery staff,” said Ms Wark.
“I’m very much looking forward to seeing the positive outcomes of the program in the first three regional NSW facilities and to assess its suitability for future implementation across the state.”
Developed in line with the NSW Health in The Arts Framework with a focus on creative ageing, the program will commence in April 2021 as a three-year pilot project in regional New South Wales delivered initially at the Culcairn and Tumbarumba Multipurpose Service facilities and the Murrumburrah-Harden Health Service facility.
Three curated visual displays of 20 high quality, framed reproductions from the Gallery’s Australian collection, and an associated program of activities and materials will be provided at the three venues to engage aged care residents in one-on-one and group activities.
Collection works selected for the program include Indigenous and non-Indigenous artists such as Roy Kennedy, Esme Timbery, Margaret Preston, Arthur Streeton and Thea Proctor.
The Gallery will provide professional development for health staff and guidance for family members to equip them to facilitate the program directly in their communities.
For more information about the program, visit: https://www.artgallery.nsw.gov.au/media-office/new-health-and-arts-outreach-program/
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Pictured above: Left to right: Nicole Summers (Murrumbidgee Local Health District) with resident Carol Lang and Kerry Menz (Murrumbidgee Local Health District) at Murrumburrah-Harden Health Service.
Photo: Brett Naseby
Artwork: Margaret Preston, ‘Thea Proctor’s tea party’1924. © Margaret Rose Preston/Copyright Agency, Sydney