By Marcia Lorenzato, Ph.D., educational psychologist and artist
In the wake of COVID-19, we have witnessed the majority of professional services using the arts as a form of support for the elderly and critically ill people be suspended. Maison Michel-Sarrazin has maintained the services of the professional in support through art in palliative care. This enabled her to adjust her work at the Bonenfant-Dionne Center and to help rebuild, with the team, the means of support while respecting health measures.
Findings: It is possible to adapt this support in virtual workshops by adjusting computer resources, artistic material, intervention strategies and modes of communication.
Since the beginning of May, we have organized four virtual groups per week with an average of three participants each. Meetings last 90 to 120 minutes. This corresponds to 70% of participants before the pandemic. Everyone who agreed to participate maintained their interest over the weeks. Each participant had the challenge of organizing their hardware and computing resources at home and making the effort to adapt to the new conditions.Their previous experience in an artistic expression workshop provides a very significant basis for starting the virtual workshops.
We have revised the strategies and means of intervention aimed at individual inner work. We managed to maintain a reflective work climate for each participant, integrating action and introspection with a sense of intimacy and trust.
Since July, we have also carried out occasional experiments in physical attendance, respecting all health rules in order to meet the needs of participants who are not adapted to the Zoom software or who have a particular need:
– individually, in the large dining room;
– with two clients, outside the building,
– with two people from the same family, for the creation of a sculpture of their hands.
August 5, 2020, Mrs. M.: “I am staying at home, I have no choice. I really care about our meetings. It is precious this bond of complicity that we have. It allows us to follow each other’s progress. The type of exchange we have is unique! I cannot have this type of reflection with other people close to me. (…) Life is impermanence. Everything is ephemeral. To accept that, you have to work. (…) Accepting our reality and the reality of the current world requires going inside and bringing out the good. (…) COVID has taken away what was left of our social life. Cultivating connections with others gives me comfort in what I am going through. Also, through the Zoom workshop, I continue to nurture ideas, inspirations, I feel in a state of creation despite the confinement. I am available to retrieve objects, nurture attractions for images, for materials. Nature offers me so many resources. (…) When we discuss one of my created objects, it becomes endearing. We make it our own. It becomes alive. It makes me feel good. (…) As Frédéric Lenoir says: Our happiness depends on the acceptance of the inevitable and the transformation of the rest. ”
August 5, 2020, Mrs. I.: “I say yes to our Zoom, because we have to share, we stand together. This sharing creates happiness. Being in a Zoom workshop means creating opportunities for solidarity and mutual aid. Communication between us has an intimacy, an empathy. (…) For me, sharing what we do, what we experience, is my way of continuing to progress. We don’t do this to keep busy. We do our artistic work to deepen our relationship with life, with oneself and with our companions in illness. (…) We discuss the meaning of our artistic works to open and broaden our outlook. ”
July 16, 2020, Mrs. K.: “Art helps me. This practice opens up possibilities for me to nurture vitality today. Art opens a way for me to take care of my overall health. (…) I do art to release emotions. There are no more problems when I paint. It helps me feel good in the moment. It nourishes calm. It socializes, sharing each other’s journey is helpful, it calms the soul. It gives the mind a break when I go around in circles, with fixed and even negative ideas. ”
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