Dementia and Imagination is a UK wide research study looking at the role of visual arts and creative activities for people living with dementia and those who support them. One aspect of the research has involved conducting a series of 12 week art groups led by professional artists that took place in care homes in the North East of England, in NHS assessment and day units in Central England and in community venues in North Wales. The aim of the art groups was to understand the impact of viewing, discussing and making art on people living with dementia and to unpick the contexts and mechanisms for creating successful visual arts activities.
This paper considers responses to open ended questions collated as part of the research. Over 120 people living with dementia took part in the research and the opinions of their formal and informal carers were also gathered. Where the person with dementia lacked capacity, a proxy response was sought. Data were collected at three time points: prior to beginning the art group, within a month of the end of the 12 weeks of the art group and 3 months following the end of the group.
Initially, responses were open coded to look for emerging themes before discrete analyses were conducted to enhance the understanding of the quantitative data that was also collected as part of the study. For the purpose of validity, the analysis was conducted independently by two researchers using the software package Atlas.ti. This paper will present the findings of the qualitative data and discuss the implications for the future creation and delivery of visual arts activities for people living with dementia, and the communities that support them.