Dementia knowledge, Art, Research and Education - teaching primary school children about dementia
Issue addressed: to develop, pilot and evaluate the impact of a short education intervention on the conceptual understanding of dementia through visual art by primary school aged children. Methods: A series of three lessons were developed in consultation with a local schoolteacher and community artists and taught in a local primary school. Stage 2 students (8-10 years old) created an artwork about memory, learned about dementia, and adapted their artworks to represent their developing understanding of dementia. Empirical data was collected through pre- and post-surveys and content analysis of the artworks. Results: Matched pre and post-test survey data was obtained for 74 students and showed a significant improvement in seven domains. This indicated that the students had an increased understanding of dementia and its impact on the individual following the lessons. Matched artwork was analysed from lessons 1 and 3 for 109 students using a coding schema developed specifically for this project. The students developed their artwork to show memories fading or being lost altogether. They also used abstract shapes to create a sense of disorder and chaos. Conclusion: Participation in the intervention was shown to increase students' understanding and knowledge of dementia using both qualitative and quantitative measures. So what: It is likely that by educating children about dementia, we have the potential to reduce the stigma faced by people living with dementia and their carers. This is of importance, as the ageing population means that more people within community, including children, will know someone living with a dementia. Further, this represents the cornerstone in creating dementia friendly communities.