Co-creativity, Well-being and Agency: A Case Study Analysis of a Co-creative Arts Group for People With Dementia


Journal of Aging Studies




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.

Music and Health Institute Terms

Alzheimer's and Related Dementias; Engagement Level; Interpersonal Relations; Interviews; Music in Combination with Other Techniques; Neurodegenerative Disorders; Wellness and Well-Being

Indexed Terms

Case-Control Studies; Creativity; Dancing; Dementia; Health Status; Interpersonal Relations; Social Participation; Agency; Arts; Co-creativity; Dementia; Well-being

Study Type

Mixed Methods

PubMed ID


Document Type