Co-creativity: possibilities for using the arts with people with a dementia

Hannah Zeilig, Julian West, Millie van der Byl Williams

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

45 Citations (Scopus)
11 Downloads (Pure)


The purpose of this paper is to explore the concept of co-creativity in relation to artistic practice with people with a dementia. The aim of the discussion is to outline how co-creativity offers fresh approaches for engaging artists and people with dementia, can contribute to less restrictive understandings of “creativity” and above all, expand the understanding of people with a dementia as creative, relational and agential.

In order to examine current conceptions of co-creativity and to inform the artistic practice, relevant literature was explored and eight expert interviews were conducted. The interviews were thematically analysed and are included here.

This paper consequently demonstrates that improvisation, structure, leadership and equality are central elements of co-creative processes and outlines how co-creativity can offer fresh insights into the way in which the arts can engage people with a dementia, the relationship between creativity and dementia and the transformative potential of the co-creative arts for those living with a dementia.

Research limitations/implications
The paper discusses some of the difficulties that are inherent a co-creative approach, including power relations and the limitations of inclusivity. Due to ethical restrictions, the paper is limited by not including the perspectives of people living with a dementia.

Practical implications
This paper paves the way for future research into co-creative processes in a variety of different contexts.

Social implications
A more nuanced understanding of co-creativity with people with dementia could challenge the dominant biomedical and social paradigms that associate “dementia” with irretrievable loss and decline by creating opportunities for creative agency.

This exploration of co-creativity with people with dementia is the first of its kind and contributes to the wider understanding of co-creativity and co-creative practice.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)135-145
Number of pages10
JournalQuality in Ageing and Older Adults
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 11 Jun 2018

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