Employing a participatory arts-based research approach, we examined an innovative program from rural Ontario, Canada, designed to address social isolation among older people. Older socially isolated adults were matched to trained volunteers, where in dyads, the eight pairs created expressive art in their home setting over the course of 10 home visits. With thematic and narrative inquiry, we analysed the experiences and perceptions of the program leader, older participants, and older volunteers via their artistic creations, weekly logs, evaluations, and field notes. The findings reveal a successful intervention that positively influenced the well-being of older adult participants and older volunteers, especially in regards to relationships, personal development, and creating meaning as well as extending the intervention’s impact beyond the program’s duration. We also discuss opportunities for similar programs to inform policy and enable positive community-based health and social service responses to rural social isolation.
Trent University School of Nursing