November 16, 2018 8:03 pm
Updated: November 16, 2018 8:12 pm

Alzheimer Society of Calgary opens 1st Opening Minds through Art training centre in Canada

WATCH: Community Reporter Deb Matejicka reports on the new Opening Minds through Art training facility in Calgary. It is currently the only centre in Canada to train facilitators in the highly regarded program for people living with dementia.

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The Alzheimer Society of Calgary has been running the Opening Minds through Art or OMA program for the last four years.

“It’s an exceptional program, evidence based,” said Barb Ferguson, executive director of the Alzheimer Society of Calgary.

It’s also become quite popular across the province.

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“We were getting so many calls from other care facilities and day programs wanting to participate in the program but there were barriers for some of their staff members to attend because they had to go to the states,” explained Ferguson.

Not anymore. Just last month, the Calgary chapter of the Alzheimer Society opened the first OMA training centre in the country.

Since then, 24 facilitators from across southern Alberta have become certified through training completed in Calgary.

READ MORE: These are the nine risk factors for dementia that you probably didn’t know about

Providing a failure-free environment that is also both social and non-judgmental, participants with dementia are able to build relationships and gain confidence.

“Sometimes, choices are taken away from a person with dementia. OMA really allows for a person to have choice — choice in what colours to use in their art, what kind of art to do,  what to call their art,” said Ferguson.

READ MORE: As dementia sets in, artists still recall drawing from memory

Ali Cada is the director of Adult Day and Creative Programs with the Alzheimer Society of Calgary. He says the program allows patients to regain some of that lost independence and autonomy.

“People with dementia, most of the time they aren’t given the opportunity to take control of certain situations but through OMA, it allows them to be in control of situations.”

“OMA allows a person to be the person again,” he said.

The Alzheimer Society is planning on holding another training session next Spring and is hoping to bring to attract dementia care givers from not just within Alberta but from across the country.

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