The My Colourful Memories brand is an established trademark of the arts-health practice that fosters emotional connectivity and interconnection between patients, their families, residents in nursing homes, and care providers in the here and now and in the future. We provide our specialist practice to care homes, hospitals, day centres and community centres in the UK. Our approach draws on a significant amount of professional and personal experience and the rigours of research, philosophy, theory, evaluation, and dissemination that characterise our work. The MCM project focused on a participatory arts-health practice at the University of Central Lancashire that involved extensive work with people who live with dementia.
The Arts Health Practice
a brief overview
Effective interventions are needed to support the delivery of person-centred care to people living with dementia. Care journals, which inform health care professionals about a person’s likes, dislikes, and interests, are used frequently in care settings. Care journals are integral to the exchange of information in health care settings. Consequently, we need to understand what information is and how to utilise it. For example, a written care journal or document may not be reliable for engaging with Mary in the present time, as it was likely to have been documented several hours or even some weeks ago. We can, however, trust what we perceive about Mary in the present. The following example illustrates our approach.
As Mary watched other participants colour, she reluctantly began to colour a family theme colouring page. As she did so, she began to talk about her living relative, her cousin Jackie.
- Is Mary in contact with her cousin Jackie?
- Would Mary like to write a letter to her?
We might be able to engage in a brief conversation right now, based on reliable and enduring information that holds the potential of establishing a meaningful activity for Mary. Therefore, it is impossible to verify a document that may suggest that, for example, Mary dislikes participating in activities until we can interact with her in the present tense, based on our perception of her.
In addition to being thought-provoking and deeply theosophical, our practice can expand far beyond merely colouring in. Values are approached from various perspectives, for example, providing care not only from the perspective of caring for an individual but also from caring for oneself in a caring relationship. Trust involves more than trusting the service provider; it also consists in trusting oneself, trusting one’s judgment, and trusting the information you exchange with the participant. The key here is currency, which brings us to the present moment, and in that sense, knowledge in the present moment comes through perception. Developing skills in perception is a fundamental part of the ‘My Colourful Memories’ training program for consultants and volunteers.
The facilitation of My Colourful Memories (and kinship practices) requires a deep understanding of the client’s body subject and object perceptions and their temporality and ideology (Merleau-Ponty, 1945).
Consultants and volunteers will understand the theories that support arts-health practices on our dedicated course website. The courses prepare volunteers and independent consultants to organize, promote, and facilitate arts health in their communities through tests, quizzes, and assignments.