In May 2016, Moorings Park in Naples, Florida sent five staff members to Oxford, Ohio to become certified OMA facilitators. Four months later, activities staff facilitated OMA in two of their memory care facilities. The Moorings Park team has successfully administered OMA at multiple sites for the last six years and plans to expand OMA into its newest facility, currently under construction.
Impact on the Residents & Families
Kim Willis, Art Instructor at Moorings Park, said that she valued most the positive responses from the residents who participated in OMA. One day, a resident took her hand and pulled her into the hallway, pointed to the display of OMA art on the wall, and said “This is the most fun!” Although this resident couldn’t remember the program’s name, she knew it was the “most fun” way to create art. Becky Buerman, Activities Director at Moorings Park, received heartfelt testimonials from family members that express their sincere gratitude for OMA. At Moorings Park, OMA artwork is an integral part in commemorating a loved one after their passing.
Becky and Kim stated how meaningful the intergenerational relationships are to the residents. Residents look forward to weekly meetings with their students. And some students want to stay connected with their older adult partners even after OMA sessions end. About half of the high school students from the statewide Bright Futures Scholarship Program who volunteered in OMA continued to volunteer even after completing their mandatory hours for the scholarship program. Some college students have shifted their career focus to Art Therapy or similar fields because of their OMA experience.
OMA Art Shows
OMA art shows at Moorings Park provides opportunities to share the program with the community at large. These are big celebrations with families and friends of the residents and the volunteers. The art shows tell the OMA story explaining the process of the program. A looped slideshow plays photos, videos, and quotes from volunteers, highlighting special moments. Framed artwork is beautifully displayed around the room.
Advice to Care Professionals
Kim believes that OMA training is very important because it teaches trainees so much about working with people who are living with dementia. Her advice to future OMA facilitators: “Good luck finding anything better than OMA for your residents. I have yet to find anything as impactful, as fun, as wide-reaching and wide-ranging as OMA is.” The ability to engage people at all different stages of dementia, all the way to the end of life, is OMA’s strength. In her long career as an art educator, Kim said that she has not seen other programs that provides opportunities for socialization, education, and self-esteem building, as well as OMA does.
Congratulations to the team at Moorings Park!