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Expressive Arts

Long term care is often perceived as lacking meaningful activities, intellectual challenges, and engagement resulting in a loss of quality of life.  The expressive arts program was designed to assist in improving engagement of nursing home residents through individualized meaningful activity.  Quality of life is a balance between quality of care, quality of engagement, and quality of place.  It represents one’s desire for a place and purpose in life.  Expressive arts is a tool for initiating conversation about quality of life.

Expressive arts have been used throughout history to improve health.  Expressive arts has long been a part of psychiatry.  Expressive arts are today recognized as having a role not only in mental health, but in rehabilitation, dementia care, and medicine.  Their usage can clear the mind, raise spirits, improve moods, relieve stress and physical symptoms, and be relaxing or calming.  

Expressive arts includes music, art, drama, storytelling, dance/movement, poetry, play, visual arts, and creative writing.  The use of expressive arts, whether individually or in a group, has been shown to stimulate self-expression, active participation, imagination, and mind-body connection.  In a long term care setting, incorporating expressive arts approaches and interventions may be beneficial in reducing behaviors, decreasing antipsychotic drug usage, and improving one’s sense of well-being.  

Expressive Arts Project

In April 2016, the ISDH partnered with the University of Indianapolis Center for Aging & Community to develop an expressive arts project.  The expressive arts project was designed to improve engagement of nursing home residents through an individualized focus on quality of life.  The project concluded in April 2018.  

The project included the following components:

  • A training course on expressive arts as a meaningful activity
  • A train the trainer course to teach how to develop and integrate the expressive arts into long term care
  • Introduction of expressive arts to statewide regional collaborative projects

The final report includes a complete description of the project and its outcomes.

Expressive Arts for Long Term Care Professionals Final Report 

Expressive Arts Conference

In October 2015, the ISDH hosted a statewide Healthcare Leadership Conference on the topic of Expressive Arts in Long Term Care.  The conference was attended by over 800 long term care professionals to include nursing homes leadership, long term care provider associations, consumer advocate organizations, and state surveyors.  The conference served as an introduction to the topic and a kickoff for the statewide project.  The following are resources and tools provided at the conference: