Make Moments Research


Make Moments Research

From March through May 2017, Connect the Dots had a research intern take a closer look at our Make Moments programme. Sarah Stewart is a PhD student in the English Department at the University of Edinburgh and she took some time out from her usual study to help us get to the bottom of what works best about Make Moments and where we should invest in improving and expanding the programme. Sarah's internship was funded by the Scottish Graduate School for the Arts and Humanities, the UK's Arts and Humanities Research Council and the Scottish Funding Council. 

Sarah interviewed our participants living with dementia as well as family caregivers and dementia activities coordinators. She identified themes in the interviews and pulled out representative quotes so that Connect the Dots could see what's important to the people we serve in their own words. Here are some of Sarah's key findings:

'So much of everyday interaction for people with dementia is just about managing. Here, they can come and it’s a whole new dimension. It brings people’s selves out into the open. I’ve loved it when carers have been blown away by how people have been revealing of themselves in ways they have not seen in a long time.'  - Dementia activities coordinator

Successes and Findings

The things people value most about Make Moments are:

  • Surprise at the insights and ability of people living with dementia. Make Moments offers a space that supports participants to make a contribution in ways they and their carers don't often get the opportunity to see
  • A general elevation of mood that often lasts well beyond the session and which may reduce the need for some medication
  • A feeling of integration. Viewing art in the gallery setting integrates people living with dementia into the community
  • The social connections that, particularly, morning and afternoon tea nurture for participants and their carers
  • The meaningful connections that dignified art activities in a sophisticated space create with peers and carers. These reduce isolation and build self-esteem for all parties
  • Socialisation, which contributes to holistic treatment through social connection
  • Welcoming, knowledgeable and skillful facilitation, which, in addition to dementia-appropriate communication, can address language and cultural issues, meeting the needs of Māori and other ethnic minorities 
  • The opportunity to take time out to contemplate something and be engaged and inspired
  • Discovering something new and learning from a variety of perspectives
  • Reminiscing, and the acknowledged expression of individuality that goes along with it, increases self-esteem and promotes feelings of belonging


The most pressing challenge for the programme is the belief that art and art making 'are not for me' and that skill and knowledge are required. Connect the Dots is committed to addressing this misunderstanding, along with other limiting beliefs and insecurities, in addition to transport issues and other accessibility concerns raised by interviewees.

‘I don’t think I am artistic, but it’s amazing when you just fiddle with things how you can make something artistic.' - Participant living with dementia

Whats Next?

Interviewees also look forward to seeing Make Moments expand. Some of their ideas include:

  • The development of a Make Moments training programme to upskill caregivers, community arts practitioners, and dementia activities coordinators  
  • Working with art galleries and dementia carers to create resources for those visiting with people living with dementia
  • Establishing partnerships that would enable community exhibitions of the artwork and commentary voiced by people living with dementia 
  • Developing a staged approach and/or parallel Make Moments programme to reach those with more advanced dementia as well as people who feel art is not for them
  • Trialing takeaway packs: Several interviewees expressed interest in continuing art making at home and saw a pack as a way they could easily do this

'I’d just really like for [Make Moments] to continue and for other people to have access to the benefit that we’ve had.’ - Family caregiver

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With arts educators experienced in working with people living with dementia and a programme that stimulates mental and social connectivity through dignified and meaningful activity in a sophisticated community space, Connect the Dots is uniquely placed to help combat the major challenges facing people living with dementia in New Zealand today. 

If some of these findings resonated with you, or if you would like to share your thoughts with us, we would love to hear from you. Please get in touch at