Using art to engage adults with dementia

When Trish Holt-Hornsby found out about a special arts-based program at the Dotsa Bitove Wellness Academy, she knew immediately that she wanted to support this approach to caring for families living with dementia.

The Dotsa Bitove Wellness Academy is a UHN project affiliated with York University for adults with memory loss due to dementia. The first dementia care facility of its kind in Canada, the Academy offers half-day and full-day programs delivered by a team composed of nurses, program assistants, painters, musicians, movement specialists, actors and researchers.

“We’re in a place of creativity and growth right now. Our approach completely shatters many of the assumptions about persons living with memory loss due to dementia,” says Dr. Christine Jonas-Simpson, Director of the Dotsa Bitove Wellness Academy and Professor, York University School of Nursing.

A typical day at the Academy is filled with a choice of activities and connects the Academy members with staff, artists, volunteers, students and one another. Each activity is different, inviting participants to learn as much as possible. The program and space are designed to accommodate simultaneously running activities such as art and art history, drama, yoga, ukulele classes, theatre, movement, creative writing, dance and music.

Trish is supporting the Artists Fund, which will have a huge impact on the Academy’s ability to provide a high-quality, professionally led relational arts-based program with practising artists from the community. “It’s wonderful to see people interacting and tapping into their talents,” explains Trish. “I was impressed with how the arts activities made everyone feel comfortable and welcome.”

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