A Uniting AgeWell art therapy program has unearthed several skilled artists – many of whom were unaware of their own talents.
Camberwell Community, Condare Court runs an art therapy program where residents are encouraged to paint, draw, create collages, play with colours and try new crafts.
Lifestyle Assistant Nusrat Rasheed said the program was established after a couple of residents expressed interest in painting.
Two residents chose to participate in the weekly program when it was first established but that number has grown to 16.
“It’s a completely new skill to all but one participant, who used to paint,” Nusrat said.
“When they see their finished piece framed and we present it to them, they feel really proud of what they’ve accomplished and they’re surprised by their talent.
“It’s also really special for me and the residents’ families to see them gain confidence through learning a new skill and doing something meaningful.”
The residents listen to quiet music during the program and are encouraged to practise long brush strokes to create calm and assist with reducing anxiety.
Along with being a lot of fun for everyone, the art therapy is something all residents can participate in, including those with advanced dementia.
“One of our residents, who usually doesn’t speak, made a beautiful artwork with the pouring paint,” she said.
“She was so struck by the colours, she said, ‘It’s really amazing’, and that was wonderful for me to hear her speak.”
Uniting AgeWell Lifestyle Manager Sharon Wilsnach said Condare Court’s art therapy was a prime example of a lifestyle program in residential care enhancing the wellbeing of residents.
“A good lifestyle program will enable people to try new things, make new connections and expand their knowledge base, because we know older people have so much to learn and so much to contribute” she said.
“Uniting AgeWell’s diverse lifestyle program embraces the difference among our clients and enables them to participate in those activities they are interested in, while choosing not to participate in the activities that don’t interest them.”
The Condare Court art therapy participants were invited to exhibit their works during the Celebration of Ageing Well in October, when Uniting AgeWell celebrates the achievements of our clients and all older people in our community at events coinciding with Seniors Week.