Objectives: This is the first known study that sought to understand the experience of an eight-week art-gallery-based intervention offered at two distinctly different galleries for people with mild to moderate dementia and their carers. The study examined impact on social inclusion, carer burden, and quality of life and daily living activities for a person with dementia.
Method: A mixed-methods pre-post design using standardised questionnaires and interviews involved 24 participants (12 with dementia) and compared similar interventions at a traditional and a contemporary art gallery. Qualitative data was analysed using thematic analysis.
Results: No significant pre-post difference was found between the traditional or contemporary gallery groups on quantitative measures. There was, however, a non-significant trend towards a reduction in carer burden over the course of the intervention for both gallery groups. Thematic analysis revealed well-being benefits from both traditional and contemporary art gallery sites that included positive social impact resulting from feeling more socially included, self-reports of enhanced cognitive capacities for people with dementia, and an improved quality of life.
Conclusion: Participants were unanimous in their enjoyment and satisfaction with the programme, despite the lack of significance from standardised measures. Further consideration of art galleries and museums, as non-clinical community resources for dementia care, is warranted. The interventions at both galleries helped to foster social inclusion and social engagement, enhance the caring relationship between the carers and PWD, support the personhood of PWD, and stimulate cognitive processes of attention and concentration.