Title of ArticleTowards a critical understanding of creativity and dementia: new directions for practice change
Type of ArticleSpecial Issue Article
Author/sPia Kontos, Alisa Grigorovich and Romeo Colobong
ReferenceVolume 10, Special Issue on Critical Perspectives on Person, Care and Aging, Article 3
Date of PublicationMarch 2020
KeywordsDance, elder-clowning, embodiment, music, relational citizenship, video recording

Background and aims: The past decade has seen important advances in research on creativity, which have provided a more inclusive view of the everyday and ordinary creativity of ‘normal’ citizens, including those living with dementia.  However, these developments are limited by a lack of engagement with theoretical and empirical scholarship on embodiment, relationality and citizenship. This article addresses these limitations by introducing and explicating a relational model of citizenship that offers a critical rethinking of creativity and the imperative that this be supported in long-term dementia care.

Methods: The article draws on transcribed video-recorded interactions between elder-clowns and residents living with dementia in one long-term care home in central Canada. These are analysed with reference to key theoretical tenets of the relational model of citizenship.

Results: Embodied selfhood, specifically the primordial and sociocultural dispositions of the body that are fundamental sources of self-expression and relationality, are identified as key to the creativity of persons living with dementia. Further, it is demonstrated that creativity is not an individual cognitive trait but rather emerges from the complex intersection of enabling environments and the embodied intentionality of all involved.

Conclusion: The analysis offered here not only adds a new dimension to the understanding of creativity, but in a more profound sense sets an important ethical standard for cultivating relational environments to support creativity in everyday life.

Implications for practice: The implication of this analysis is that creativity must be supported in the context of everyday life through organisational practices and sociopolitical institutions, including opportunities for practice development and broader structural changes that more fully support the relational, interpersonal and affective dimensions of care.

This article by Pia Kontos, Alisa Grigorovich and Romeo Colobong is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial 3.0 License.

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