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Opening Minds through Art (OMA), a Program for Older Adults with Dementia and Alzheimer’s

Program Description

In June 2015 three staff/volunteers were trained and certified in the “Opening Minds Through Art” (OMA), a national best practice model of working with dementia and Alzheimer’s patients developed by The Scripps Gerontology Institute in Ohio.  This weekly program was implemented in March 2016 at St. Mary’s Woods, an assisted living facility in Richmond, VA.   The program now annually serves up to twenty residents involved in the institution’s memory unit and impacts up to 25 volunteers, 60 family members, 60 facilitators-in-training and innumerable members of the community who visit the sessions and attend the two art exhibits.  Besides providing two ten-week sessions at St. Mary’s Woods, Art for The Journey has been authorized to train and certify “facilitators” to take the program to additional assisted living sites throughout Central Virginia. Art for the Journey has trained and certified 56 new OMA Facilitators in 2017-2019 from over 19 assisted living facilities from Virginia, nearby states and Canada. We have seen OMA implemented in seven Virginia facilities, four in the Richmond region. We estimate over 100 elders are involved in these programs overall, impacting over 400 family members.

Program Address

111 Willow Oaks Road Richmond Virginia 23238

Classification

Health

Location

Richmond City

Primary Population Served

People/Families with of People with Disabilities

Success Stories

Analysis of the data collection surveys used in the program indicates our impact at the same level as that across other areas of the nation.  We are having a positive impact in the 90th percentile on all measures and among all groups involved in the program.  Staff at St. Mary's Woods report that residents involved in the program are participating more broadly in other programs of the institution and families are reporting a more positive view of their elder.  At least two college volunteers have changed their majors to social work and occupational therapy after their involvement in the program.

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