Re-imagining dementia through the arts

The Partnerships in Dementia Care Alliance, aims to challenge the tragedy discourse that surrounds dementia and build upon the culture change process. To do so, they have partnered with researchers, persons living with dementia, their care partners, artists, and actors to create various arts based projects that share individual experiences of dementia.

Community based arts based project

In this arts and community-based research project we brought persons with dementia, family members, visual and performance artists, and researchers together in a one-day workshop to explore the implications of the tragedy discourse for persons and families experiencing dementia and worked with them to begin to create an alternative discourse. Working collaboratively, eight visual and poetic expressions were created that reflect what persons with dementia want the world to know about them: despite loss and sadness they are supported by loving networks, embracing life, remaining active and engaged, breaking the silence, and transforming with new possibilities. The visual and poetic expressions were chosen to be featured at an installation at LabCab, a multi-arts festival in Toronto, Canada, in July 2013. It was also featured at the Toronto Rehabilitation Institute-University Health Network, Innovations Gallery in 2013 and was so successful that it was invited back for a second showing. A story on the art appeared in the Kitchener Record Fall 2013.


Opening UP to Possibilities - Surrounded by love, Possibilities beacon, My life is transformed by Ornella Forbes and Katherine Burgoyne (with Barb Robinson, Lori Nancy Kalamanski, and Susan Applewhaite).

Emerging Colour - Dark days and tunnels, Plunging through darkness, loss Emerging colour by Al Stager, anonymous person with dementia, and Laurie Spieker (with Gail Mitchell and Jerrold Karch).

Do It and It Will Be Good - Live an active life, Do it and it will be good, Light, life, warmth and love by Ron Hustwitt and Marie Boal (with Nadine Cross and Tim Machin).

Make Contact - Now making contact, Face to face breaking silence, Smiling be present by Bill Jeffrey and Jessie Schutte (with Corey Johnson and Mary Ellen Maclean).

Remembering Me - Circling strengths and braids, Power for persisting climbs, Remembering me by Susan Parish and Marie Boal (with Nadine Cross and Claire Muir).

He shoots, He scores! - He shoots and he scores, Breaking away from stigma, Engaged—enabled! by Brian Hanford and Jessie Schutte (with Corey Johnson and Mary Ellen MacLean).

I’m Still Me Care partners - Light shines through darkness, Hope shines through activism, Accept—I’m still me by Blaine Forbes, Dianne Hanford, Ron Hustwitt, Arlene Jeffrey,  Jim McKinlay, Brian Parish, Penny Stager with Lisa Meschino and Supria Karmakar (with Christine Jonas-Simpson).

Dancing with Dementia - Dancing with dementia Embrace, enjoyment, thriving Flow, wind and movement by Mary McKinlay and Nijole Taylor (with Pia Kontos and Mark Prince).


Sherry L. Dupuis, Ph.D., Partnerships in Dementia Care Alliance, and Recreation and Leisure Studies, University of Waterloo

Gail Mitchell, Ph.D., York University and York-UHN Nursing Academy

Pia Kontos, Ph.D., Toronto Rehabilitation Institute-University Health Network and Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto

Christine Jonas-Simpson, Ph.D., School of Nursing, York University

Julia Gray, Ph.D. Candidate, University of Toronto and Playwright, Possible Arts

Funded by a Canadian Institutes for Health Research (CIHR) Knowledge Translation Supplement Grant.

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