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The Caring Artist: Exploring the Role of an Arts-­Health Practitioner in
a Nursing Home and a Model of Arts-­Health Practice

TAN, MICHAEL,T,KOONBOON (2016) The Caring Artist: Exploring the Role of an Arts-­Health Practitioner in
a Nursing Home and a Model of Arts-­Health Practice.
Doctoral thesis, Durham University.

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The priorities many nursing homes give to physical care often supersede consideration for leisure arrangements and resources with the effect that the range of activities and engagement opportunities for residents are limited. An inactive lifestyle in nursing homes can compromise the residents’ quality of life and their psychosocial wellness through boredom, diminished morale and reinforced dependency. A low level of engagement also exposes residents to a greater risk of developing cognitive impairment and accentuates feelings of loneliness and isolation. Given the demographic trend of an ageing population together with a growing demand for nursing homes in Singapore, this research addresses the current lack of research on lifestyles of nursing home residents and arrangements to promote their personal well-being.
In this thesis, I investigate the effect of a participatory visual arts programme on the personal well-being of residents in a Singapore nursing home. The study explores the ways in which well-being is afforded through participatory arts activities and the role an artist can take in relation to human caring. To facilitate evaluation and reflection on my arts-health practice, I brought my arts-health practice into a novel dialogue methodologically with the action-research case study approach of social science. I refer to this hybrid approach as ‘critical arts-health practice’.
The empirical data of the study prompted exploration of the link between vitality and participatory arts activities. Participatory arts activities are found to revitalise the sensory, physical, cognitive, emotional, social capacities of older adults and promote self-actualisation. Drawing on Gilles Deleuze’s assemblage theory, I conceptualised the Arts-Health assemblage as a way of understanding the processes through which participatory arts activities contribute to the participants’ well-being, as both dynamic and as involving multiple interrelated elements. I argue that the broad concerns of arts-health practice can be defined as combining individualised attention to the participant, well-being outcome, and ensuring the quality of the environment and activities for participatory arts. I argue that attentiveness to these dimensions will promote a more effective and caring arts-health practice. Lastly, the central importance of these dimensions within an arts-health practice emphasises that the arts-health practitioner is first and foremost a caring artist.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Keywords:Arts for Health; Aged Care; Nursing Home; Participatory Visual Arts; Assemblage Theory; Vitality; Wellbeing; Caring Artist; Practice Framework
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Social Sciences and Health > Geography, Department of
Thesis Date:2016
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:16 May 2017 11:52

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