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Western Reserve & Ohio Masonic Home Receive 2 Grants from the Ohio Arts Council for Memory Care Programming

We are excited to announce the funding of two grants awarded by Ohio Arts Council: Arts Partnership – a two-year program for music and storytelling; and Arts Next – a one-year program using Museum Houses to encourage bringing memories to life from childhood.

The grants build off the success of the Silver Songbirds, which utilizes volunteers to assist Memory Care residents practice and perform as a choir. The Songbirds hold three sessions throughout the year utilizing holiday and other musical genres which stimulate the memory and recall of the choir members. This program has shown improvement in self-esteem, mood, and while it is hard to quantify its specific impact there have been noted improvements in several clinical categories.

The grants provide funding for two artists to assist in development and implementation of this ground breaking programming. First, the artist will facilitate the training of volunteers. This volunteer training will include learning to record and store participants’ stories and Silver Songbirds concerts, assist those with Alzheimer’s Disease and dementia with memory recall and retrieval to encourage a story in response to photos, and measure steps toward the development of arts skills. A weekly schedule will then be established and each volunteer will be assigned a participant to build a one-on-one relationship with.

Each season, a theme (i.e. “Young Love”) will be chosen and, during sessions, volunteers will ask related questions about the provided photo, repeating these questions over the first few meetings to test the recall of past discussions, and eventually recording responses. Furthermore, recordings of favorite, thematically related songs rehearsed by the Silver Songbirds will be used to comfort residents and aid in memory recall. The Art Partnership Storytelling and Arts Next Museum Project, are collaborative of each other. The residents, with the assistance of volunteers and ARTIST, will use tiny puppets to create informal theatric “productions” based on memories using personal museums as personalized “stages.”

The grant programming started in October of the 2019. The intention is to extend this programming to the Browning and Springfield campuses as part of The Ohio Masonic Home’s Strategic Dementia Initiative.

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