Co-creativity, well-being and agency: A case study analysis of a co-creative arts group for people with dementia

Hannah Zeilig, Victoria Tischler, Millie van der Byl Williams, Julian West, Sarah Strohmaier

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34 Citations (Scopus)
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At the heart of this paper is an exploration of artistic co-creativity involving people with dementia and their partners. Co-creativity promotes a relational approach to creativity which nurtures inclusion and participation. This paper investigates how co-creativity can affect well-being from the perspectives of people with dementia and their carers; and explores how well-being and agency might be usefully reconsidered. The article draws on findings from a small-scale study ‘With All’ that focused on music and dance as non-verbal and therefore inclusive artforms. A range of disciplinary perspectives, from psychology, philosophy and social sciences, inform the study. The research used an intrinsic case-study methodology and within this a mixed-methods approach was adopted. This included dialogic interviews, video data analysis and the Canterbury Well-being Scale (CWS). Thematic analysis of the interviews and video data revealed three key themes: autonomy, connections, and art as an enabler. These themes captured the experiences of the participants and facilitated a more nuanced understanding of wellbeing and agency in the context of living with dementia. The analysis of the CWS indicated some improvements in well-being. Following this analysis using multiple data sources, the paper argues that well-being and agency are best understood as relational, and ongoing, rather than completed states. Further both wellbeing and agency contain their opposites (ill-being and passivity). This innovative exploration highlighted the importance of co-creative collaboration as a method that was considered valuable by participants, and that therefore should be further considered in future research with people living with dementia.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)16-24
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Aging Studies
Early online date27 Mar 2019
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2019


  • Agency
  • Arts
  • Co-creativity
  • Dementia
  • Well-being

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