A study is looking at collaboration between Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander art centres and aged care providers in remote parts of Australia in a project that could form the basis of a unique new application of consumer directed care.
A research team led by the National Ageing Research Institute is working in partnership with art centres and providers in remote areas of the NT, South Australia and WA to investigate potential benefits for older indigenous people and those living with dementia in the community.
Research leader Paulene Mackell from NARI and RMIT says it’s known that art centres offer indigenous people the opportunity to produce art, learn new skills, engage in social interaction and earn an income.
However, the ways in which they are supporting ageing members of the community in a culturally relevant way has been largely unexamined until now.
Aged care providers and art centres working together
The current study, which has been underway since August 2017 with funding from the federal government’s Dementia and Aged Care Innovation scheme, is looking at the extent to which art centres are working with providers and how the relationship could be developed.
It’s partnered with three Aboriginal-controlled arts organisations: Mangkaja Arts Resource Agency in Fitzory Crossing in WA, Ikundji Artists in Haasts Bluff in the Northern Territory and Tjanpi Desert Weavers in central Australia, which works with women in 26 communities in the NPY Lands.
Tjungu Aged and Disability Care and Kimberley Aged Care Services are also involved in the project.
“We’ve started to work with them to understand what their current practices are in terms of supporting older artists,” Mackell told Community Care Review.
“What we’re uncovering is that there’s significant collaboration that already exists between art centres that are based in remote centres and the local aged care providers.
“We are looking at consumer directed care and home care packages and whether there is any potential to consider art centres as an opportunity for them to link older artists with providers.
“What we would envisage is they could potentially be brokered to provide different opportunities, so that could be a day at the art centre per week, or transport to and from the art centre or trips out to country with the other people or arts workshops and planned activities. A whole range of things could be considered.”
Addressing a knowledge gap
The research has been funded until June 2020 when the team, including the University of WA and the Centre for Remote Health, is due to report back to the government.
Mackell says preliminary results about increasing or formalising collaboration between the art centres and providers should be available from early next year
Researchers also hope to develop a guide that can be used across remote Australia to help art centres work more closely with aged care providers in the community.
The study follows a literature review published in June 2017 that found a gap in knowledge about how art programs catered for the needs of older people in remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, where dementia is up to five times more prevalent than that of non-Aboriginal people.
“That gave us the evidence that there was a gap in our knowledge about whether art centres were supporting older people and particularly those with dementia,” Mackell said.