Opening Minds through Art provides powerful experiences for Practical Nurse students

Date posted: 
Fri, 05/04/2018
Opening Minds through Art - May 2018

Connecting, communicating and building relationships were of critical importance for first-year Practical Nurse students this spring when they participated in the intergenerational art program, Opening Minds through Art (OMA).

The program, which is specifically designed for people living with dementia, provided the opportunity for students to engage in weekly paintings with seniors, creating artwork and learning that will have lasting impacts on their future nursing careers.

“The program took place at Points West Living Red Deer, led by Opening Minds through Art and in partnership with the Alzheimer Society of Alberta and North West Territories,” says Connie Cooper, RDC Practical Nurse Instructor. “We are very fortunate that RDC has such a positive relationship with these groups so our students could participate in this experience and receive training and tools to make it possible.”

The Eden Philosophy of holistic and person-centred care at Points West Living Red Deer was the constant theme that students experienced through all aspects of the OMA program. “It’s so important to remember that a diagnosis doesn’t define a person,” explains Cooper. “We always have to consider who the person is on the inside – who were they before and who are they still.”

Through the interactive process of the weekly OMA sessions, students were partnered with artists, and they discovered the importance of communicating and connecting with individuals on a deeper level, beyond what they might learn in a medical chart. “I feel honoured to have been part of OMA. As I began my first session with my artist, I never would have imagined the emotional impact this creative journey would have on me,” Stephanie, a Practical Nurse student, shared after the program. “Being able to participate with my OMA artist and watching her discover her own creativity through each piece of artwork was incredible.”

Students also identified the importance of promoting autonomy through offering their artists with choices. In addition to communicating and building relationships, a large part of the program was providing the artists with opportunities to make their own decisions, which students found to be another great example of person-centred care.

To help celebrate the artists, a volunteer committee of Practical Nurse students planned an art show, which was held on May 3. The event provided an opportunity for the artists and their families to celebrate their creative accomplishments, and approximately 40 pieces of art were sold at a silent auction, with all proceeds supporting future supplies for the OMA program.

Tess Kastelic, a Practical Nurse student who led the committee, believes the entire OMA experience will benefit her future career by helping her to develop and incorporate the knowledge and skills she attained to improve residential care. “In my practice, providing person-centred care means doing what encourages hope in the residents,” she says. “Hope is believing in a positive outcome or future, and creating this environment is essential to the well-being and progressive treatment of all residents.”

When she considers the positive impact of OMA from an educational perspective, Cooper notes that, in addition to her students this spring, students from the Bachelor of Science in Nursing and the Occupational & Physical Therapist Assistant programs have also participated this year. “This partnership is remarkable, and I would love to see all of our students involved,” she says. “It provides them with tools that it would have taken them years to develop otherwise, and it’s opening doors, as more students are interested in senior care. I’m so grateful that our students and the artists have had this opportunity.”

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For additional information contact:

Shelley Newman
Communications Strategist – Corporate

Brent Forster
Communications Strategist – Corporate