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Digital Participative Visual Arts Intervention for People with Dementia

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Dementia is a devastating condition that affects around 850,000 people in the UK according to the Alzheimer’s Society. So how can digital visual art play a role early on in the disease? Whilst it has been found that music can unlock memories later into the disease, digital visual arts interventions appear to act earlier.

Working with Coventry residents, this project will create digital materials and shared activities using local arts and psychology experts.

Researchers will develop and improve an existing digital arts app named “ArtonTheBrain (AoTB)" utilising locally-created art. AoTB was recently trialled among older people living in long-term care facilities in Boston, USA.

The trial demonstrated that the use of AoTB resulted in substantial improvements in wellbeing - regardless of cognitive status.

Although the published trial has demonstrated significant benefit for an ageing population in North America, further work is required to co-design and adapt AoTB materials for use in the UK.

The project will provide an opportunity for collaboration and co-creation between academics, practitioners, museums and the public to design an adapted digital participative visual arts intervention for older people with dementia.

This growing and vulnerable population and their carers are often excluded from the visual arts sector.

The project will lay the foundation for future creative technological developments to support Coventry’s elderly population.

AoTB has been evaluated in a trial among older people in long-term care facilities in Boston, and will now be adapted for use in a similar setting in the UK.

The project is led by Dr Michael Loizou (Centre for Postdigital Cultures [CPC], Coventry University) and Dr Deborah Biggerstaff (Warwick Medical School).