Accepted Paper:

Drawing on Strengths? Reflections on the development of an Assets-based tool for people diagnosed with dementia.  


Frances Williams (Glyndwr University)

Paper short abstract:

This paper critically examines the concept of an 'asset-based' approaches to healthcare through the example of project which invites participants to draw and map their own lives using an arts-based intervention in response to a diagnosis of dementia.

Paper long abstract:

This paper explores the gap between the policy concept of taking 'an asset-based approach' to health care, setting it alongside the subjective experiences of people facing a life-changing diagnosis of dementia. How is this concept applied to real life settings and what does it bring to the process of the creation of meaning through lived experience?

I will explore this question through critically examining current academic literatures relating to 'asset-based' health, (Friedli, 2012) alongside older theories of 'salutogenesis', which situate health and disease, not as a binary, but in a continuum across the life cycle (Antonovsky, 1996).

I will use these theories to explore a current arts in health intervention, Drawing on Strengths, a pilot partnership between Merseycare and London Health Arts Forum, which aims to create a prototype for an "arts-based asset audit tool". It has engaged an artist to "help people to map and to record, using visual means, the positive aspects of their lives."

I will examine, through this example, if and how it is possible to "translate" the concept and 'assets' into a meaningful creative intervention that can empower participants, exploring tensions inherent in this act. What does a project, framed in this way, tell us about current conceptions of "living well" in this particular context, one in which the impact of the illness is compounded by that of the diagnosis and the fear and social stigma that also surround this disease?

Panel P020
Making, Materials and Recovery: Perspectives "from the inside"