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Intouch : In Touch Issue 76
6 in touch Autumn 2011 www.alzheimers.org.au news upcoming workshops To find out about upcoming Carer Support Group Leader workshops in your area, see page 11 or contact Monica Cole. T: (02) 8875 4682 E: firstname.lastname@example.org art on the coast Weekly dementia-specific art groups on the Mid-North Coast turn isolation into connection. AlzNSW and the Uniting Care Ageing Social Support Monitoring program on the Mid-North Coast have partnered to run dementia- specific art groups. Launched in July 2010, the groups now run every Monday, alternating between Coffs Harbour and Nambucca Heads. AlzNSW Dementia Advisor Marg Coutts, who jointly runs the program, says visual art media provide a means for people with dementia to express themselves without the need for words, logic or skill, and in a way that is completely individual. “This is a ‘space’ that people with dementia can access and in which they can find the kind of nourishment that promotes quality of life,” Marg said. “What always delights and inspires me is that people come to these programs having not held a paintbrush or a crayon since they were 12 years old. “And yet the marks on paper come; the life of the person emerges, tentatively at first, but then with greater certainty, confidence and gusto! “Over the past seven years I have been lucky enough to witness people with dementia transform isolation into connection, fear into laughter, confusion into satisfaction, and timidity into boldness through the opportunity to express their uniqueness in colour, shape and form.” Control through art Marg speaks of one participant, Joe, who decided he would watch a session and maybe have a go next time. With a little encouragement he began to get to know how the crayons worked, how the paint worked. “Before long he was absorbed and painting independently. “The result of this was not only a painting that made him beam, but an experience of a safe world, where he was in control, where he had all the expertise he needed to express himself and make a contribution to the world,” Marg says. Whole despite loss “When individuals with dementia are creating, they have transcended memory loss and can see something happening before them,” writes Patricia Baines in Nurturing the Heart: Creativity, art therapy and dementia. Marg agrees: “Art groups offer the possibility for such rich experiences, to experience a sense of wholeness despite the inevitable change and loss that dementia brings.” For more information about AlzNSW art therapy programs, call the National Dementia Helpline. T: 1800 100 500 Following the success of the Grief, Loss and Dementia Carer Support Groups workshops in 2010, we are delighted to be able to offer this informative and experiential workshop to a greater number of group leaders in 2011. Feedback from 2010’s course has been positive. “I came out of the workshop with a lot more confidence and trust within myself,” said one participant. about the course The Grief, Loss and Dementia Carer Support Group Program is designed to sensitively introduce grief and loss to group leaders in order for them to work effectively with this ever-present subject in the carer support groups. Some of the topics explored are how people respond to loss and change throughout life and the journey of dementia, how to assist carers through their grief in a support group setting, and how leaders can take care of their own wellbeing while working with this sensitive topic. Session plans and a Leader’s Guide Manual provide useful ongoing resources for novice and veteran group leaders alike. Group leader Workshops and Forum The Introduction to Group Work Leadership and the Advanced Group Leadership workshops will again be offered across NSW and, as an extension to these programs, we have developed a one-day Group Leader Forum for current carer support group leaders. The forum will include an educational component along with an opportunity for group leaders to network, engage in peer support and share relevant activities and exercises. Training and professional development programs in 2011 will help leaders of carer support groups deal with grief and loss. Leading the way When creating, the person with memory loss is in control.
In Touch Issue 75
In Touch Issue 77