In October 2018, the Alzheimer Society of Calgary became the first official Opening Minds through Art (OMA) training centre in Canada, which means more facilitators can be trained to offer the in-demand program.
Created by Dr. Elizabeth Lokon of Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, OMA is a person-centred, evidence-based intergenerational art program for people living with dementia. Over the course of eight to 10 weeks, participants co-create an abstract art project, which is presented in an art show.
“The mission of OMA is to bridge the gap and build empathy between younger generations and people living with dementia,” says Ali Cada, director of Adult Day and Creative Programs at the Alzheimer Society of Calgary. “For people living with dementia, it allows them to be a teacher.”
In Calgary, members of the Alzheimer Society’s Club 36 partner with nursing students from the University of Calgary’s faculty of nursing, but other facilities collaborate with different intergenerational groups, including middle-aged volunteers and high school students.
The program is designed to give participants living with dementia as many choices as possible in their art making.
“OMA promotes choices and autonomy and dignity for a person living with dementia,” Cada says. “The testimony of the students, clients and care partners involved has been life-changing, which is why the program is so successful and effective.”
Since the training centre opened, 24 new OMA facilitators have completed the program and a new training session is planned for this spring. [ ]