NursePartners seeks out resources for family members of clients living with dementia We find that children and spouses often find themselves burdened with their new role as caregiver, forgetting how to connect with their loved one on other levels. Programs such as ARTZ Philadelphia brings the client and their caregiver together to talk about what they learn. Caregivers are often surprised by how they are able to reconnect with their family members or clients.
The following answers were provided by Susan Shifrin, Founder and Executive Director of ARTZ Philadelphia.
How do families participate in your program?
In our museum programs, people with dementia diagnoses and their family members come together to engage in conversations that we facilitate about art.
Carepartners and those they love to participate on an even footing. What ends up happening is that participants rediscover the joy of conversing with one another about things other than illness.
The carepartners tend to witness their loved ones behaving differently than they might at home. They see their wit, their humor, their intellectual engagement with the art and with others in the group. This can remind the carepartners of all the attributes they love about the people they are caring for.
What is the cost of admission?
Can I bring my loved one if they are in a wheelchair?
100% yes. All of our ARTZ @ The Museum sites accommodate individuals in wheelchairs. When people first register for our programs, we send them an informal survey to assess their particular needs before their first experience with us: do they have low vision, are they hard of hearing in one ear, do they require assistance walking? When we set up the seating for our programs, people in wheelchairs will be front and center for group conversations.
We do our best in general to ensure that participants are physically positioned to take the most from the program.
I am a professional carepartner, not a family member. Can I still attend?
Absolutely. We had a wonderful woman named Eve who came to museum programs for three years, hardly missing one. Eve came with her professional carepartner.
After Eve passed away, the professional carepartner approached ARTZ director about assisting other clients. Now she accompanies a new client to the program.
The carepartner was almost as beloved as Eve by the original group.
The connection is the same for all attendees.
I am not an art history expert, is this the right program for me?
Our programs aren’t about art history or expertise (though both are welcomed if participants bring them). It is about being in the moment and connecting with other people around a work of art.
80% of participants start by saying they do not know anything about art. They end up being the liveliest and most opinionated about art, receiving validation by group.
What other similar resources are available to me?
ARTZ has one program specifically for carepartners, called Cafes for carepartners. This is to give carepartners time to do things they believe are fun, engaging, and stimulating with others who know what they are going through. These cafes are not support groups, though they offer supportive experiences. While care partners sometimes choose to talk about their caregiving experiences with each other, just as often, they don’t. It’s completely up to them to set the agenda.
Cafés for Care Partners also offer opportunities to tour gardens and museums. When we are about to partner with a new museum or art center, we invite our care partners to vet the new sites before we incorporate them into our programs.
ARTZ is hoping to develop new programs around music.
ARTZ has a partnership with Jefferson that pairs people living with dementia at various stages and/or care partners (both are called “mentors”) to medical, nursing, pharmacy, and occupational therapy students over a period from six to eight weeks. The program participants first get to know one another through shared experiences around works of art. Over time, students get to know those with the diagnosis as people first, through series of one-on-one encounters. Mentors teach future healthcare providers what it means to live with dementia, from the inside out.
Health professions students tell us that they are reminded why they chose to go into medicine through this program. They went into medicine to make human connections.
If I want to go to your next event, what should I do?
If you have access to the Internet, go to website www.artzphilly.org. Choose “participate in a program” on the home page. You will see “ARTZ in the museum”. Click on this.
The new page will tell you more and what you can expect. Go to the section “Explore Upcoming Events”. There is a little button next to the program that says, “Register Now”.
If you do not have access to the web, you can make a phone call to Susan, 610-721-1606 and she will make sure you are listed on the program.
There is a monthly newsletter, you can sign up for it via the website (https://www.artzphilly.org/) of their Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/ARTZPhiladelphia/).