In September 2017, Sunset Village began offering an innovative art program for memory care residents. Now through its first full year, the Opening Minds Through Art (OMA) program is adding a creative element to Sunset’s resident care.
During weekly meetings, participants have opportunities to work on projects incorporating various art forms such as watercolors, collages, stenciling, and others. While there are designated projects each week, residents are encouraged to think abstractly while expressing their creativity. The program aims to help prolong mental health by keeping individuals engaged and letting them take pride in the artwork they produce.
“OMA encourages and engages residents who are experiencing memory loss,” says Janel Smith, Sunset’s OMA facilitator. “The class-like structure provides a supportive setting for creative freedom.”
OMA is a well-known and well-received program that is currently featured at more than 200 facilities throughout North America. Dr. Elizabeth Lokon created the program in 2007 at Miami University by drawing on her fine arts degree and her graduate studies in education and gerontology.
Lokon designed the program for individuals with dementia and other neurocognitive disorders. Her vision for OMA was that residents would be paired with volunteers and staff who were trained to rely on imagination instead of memory—and to focus on remaining strengths rather than lost skills and abilities. OMA’s goal is to enable people with dementia to assume new roles as artists and teachers while creating a legacy of beautiful artwork.
Since its founding, OMA has received numerous awards and acknowledgments for its success in geriatric care, including a 2015 endorsement by the Ohio Department of Aging as a Quality Improvement Project.
OMA’s structured activity model offers a one-to-one patient-to-staff/volunteer ratio that is proven to increase individual wellbeing levels in factors such as social interest, engagement, and pleasure.
Creating Vibrant, Life-affirming Environments
OMA is just one of several structured activities Sunset offers to its memory care residents.
“We provide a variety of opportunities designed to inspire a positive attitude toward life,” says Smith, Sunset’s OMA facilitator. “Through programs such as OMA, our residents can renew former interests and discover new ones.”
Currently, the artwork produced through Sunset’s OMA program is displayed throughout the facility. But Smith plans to offer some pieces for sale.
“We’re hoping to make the artwork available for purchase at local art shows and coffee houses in the near future,” says Smith. “We’re also looking to hold a silent auction featuring the artwork, with proceeds going to support the OMA program.”
For more information about OMA at Sunset Village, contact Janel Smith at 419-724-1200.