Our research project asks: How can visual arts interventions change, sustain and catalyse community cultures, beliefs, attitudes and behaviours to create dementia friendly communities?
What is a community?
I think it is useful to explore first how the word community is defined, and then to consider how does that relate to people with dementia. The word derives from the Latin, communis; things held in common. A quick search for a dictionary definition provides the following:
- a social unit of any size that shares common values (Wikipedia)
- a body of people or things viewed collectively (OED, & following quotes)
- a body of people who live in the same place, usually sharing a common cultural or ethnic identity
- An online facility, such as an electronic bulletin board, forum, or chat room, where users can share information or discuss topics of mutual interest
Within the Dementia & Imagination project we have two defined communities:
- Community of Interest - people with dementia- Community of Practice - Intervention Artists (primary) and Researchers, Research Artists and Stakeholders (secondary)
Can we belong to a community, but not feel we are a part?
McMillan and Chavis (1986) identify four elements of "sense of community": membership, influence, integration and fulfillment of needs and shared emotional connection.
Can we belong to a community with dementia?
A dementia-friendly community is one in which people with dementia are empowered to have aspirations and feel confident, knowing they can contribute and participate in activities that are meaningful to them. Many villages, towns and cities are already taking steps towards becoming dementia-friendly, or have an ambition to do so. Alzheimer's Society