“Make sure not to rush because time doesn’t matter.”OMA Volunteer
Four staff members from various departments in Westminster Village in West Lafayette, Indiana, attended OMA facilitator training in 2016 and 2017. As a pilot session they invited staff members to serve as art partners. This allowed Westminster Village to gather support and momentum for a larger roll out of the OMA program.
Westminster Village is building their volunteer base through an STNA training program and Purdue’s college of Health and Human Sciences and Center for Aging and Life Course. They have also developed ten additional OMA projects and plan to continue developing more in the future.
“It’s like a little piece of yourself is out there on the paper when you make art. It is good!”OMA Artist
We interviewed Rachel Witt, Art Programming Coordinator, (Facilitator Class of ’16), about her experience as an OMA Facilitator
Which art project has been the most successful at your site?
“Bubble Wrap is a beloved OMA staple. However, because we have a very strong established art program, and two fully equipped art studios at Westminster, we provide programming for the full continuum of care. As such, we have developed an additional ten new OMA projects and continue to develop an additional two to three new projects per semester to give us more variety.”
Since you began implementing OMA, what are the most important lessons that you have learned? What advice would you give to new OMA facilitators?
“We have learned a lot, but the key to our success has really been persistence. I know it might seem that we have it “easy” because we have such established art programs and access, but there are significant hurdles every semester: gathering volunteers, scheduling trainings, budget questions, choosing residents, etc. We have had to take a persistent posture with all things, solving problems as they come. I would really recommend that new OMA facilitators gather support at a high level for the program.”
“OMA has encouraged me to see people for who they are and not their health diagnosis.”OMA Volunteer
Have there been any challenges that you’ve overcome while facilitating OMA? How did you overcome them?
“Two major challenges have been obtaining youth volunteers and identifying elders for the program. We have recruited children of staff members, local high school art teachers, community contacts, interns and volunteers from Purdue University, and high school seniors training to be nurse aides. There are also far more elders eligible for OMA than we can accommodate, and OMA has challenged us to engage as many elders as possible. This has offered us opportunities to grow in services we provide to elders with dementia, in and out of the OMA setting.”
Does your site have any exciting future plans for OMA?
“Between fall and spring semester, we have served roughly 64 elders. In hopes of streamlining our volunteer process, we are currently in negotiations for a service learning class (for credit) with Purdue’s college of Human Development and Family Services for 2019. We have also developed an active group of elders who help us do our prep work for OMA. This group of dedicated volunteers has been instrumental in our ability to provide programming for so many. There are also plans from our facility to create a video of the partnering process to use in training.”
Congratulations to Westminster Village for being the Featured Site for Spring 2018!