I’m looking for research that supports the value of arts programming in long term care settings. The surveys we receive from residents and staff are incredibly positive. Everyone is telling us how much our (music, dance drama and visual) arts programs are appreciated. Our artists go to nearly 70 locations in Hampton Roads…not all are nursing homes and assisted living facilities, but we see enough of these places to know that people are frustrated, lonely, and marginalized. Staffs are burdened with caregiving, medications, safety, behaviors, paperwork and much more. They can’t do it all and we as a community should not expect them to. None of us ever wants to be that resident who sits in a wheelchair by the nurse’s station all day. The community, in general, doesn’t know how to come in and engage with frail, elderly, depressed and/or medicated seniors. But at TAO, we feel that in this environment in these long-term care facilities, the arts shine and can be the convener. The arts build community. They help us celebrate our uniqueness, our humanity, and our lives, no matter our age, shape, or condition. With the right approach and accommodations, people can be brought into the experience and can benefit in many ways.
Tidewater Arts Outreach has grown quickly to answer unmet needs. It seems like the artists and much of the community is on board with our mission and work. If we can point to research that supports financial reasons to increase arts programming, we can increase person-centered arts opportunities in long term care. If you were 90 and in a wheelchair in a nursing home, don’t you think an hour spent painting with a group of children would be appropriate and enjoyable? We’re working to sustain TAO and these types of opportunities. If anyone can point to studies that support this premise, I would be obliged.