Creative Aging Directory - IONA Senior Services

Program Title
Iona Wellness & Arts Center
Program Summary

Iona Senior Services of Washington, D.C. hosts the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Wellness & Arts Center, a state-of-the-art day program that provides companionship, nursing care, safety, and opportunities for individual expression through a range of enriching activities. Since 1986, the center has been a place where older adults age 60 and above are valued, respected, and supported.

Iona maintains on staff a full-time art therapist who works each year with over 85 participants, many of whom live with a cognitive or physical disability. Person-centered, individualized programs are geared towards caring for and engaging older people who are living with memory loss, diabetes, stroke, Parkinson’s disease, and other chronic conditions. Through the art therapy program, participants in the center find joy, comfort, understanding, and a new and profound way to communicate their emotions through daily group and individual art-making sessions. The center also serves caregivers, offering them educational programs, support groups, one-on-one consultants, and valuable respite time.

Program Background and History

Since its founding in 1975, Iona Senior Services has supported people facing the challenges and opportunities of aging by educating, advocating, and providing community-based services and programs to help people age well and live well. Creative and community engagement is integral to Iona’s mission of creating a successful leadership role in the community.

In 2006, with funding from the Harry and Jeannette Weinberg Foundation, Iona hired a full-time art therapist in the Wellness & Arts Center, its award-winning adult day health program for people with memory loss and/or physical frailty. Art therapy has transformed the center and attracted the attention of other creative organizations in the city. The Wellness & Arts Center has since piloted a program in partnership with the Phillips Collection in Washington, D.C., using masterpieces on exhibit at the museum to inform and inspire the therapeutic work in the Iona studio.

Program-Specific Research and Key Findings
Program-Specific Assessment and Evaluation

The art therapy program at Iona’s Wellness & Arts Center evaluates individual therapeutic progress through case notes and caregiver questionnaires.

Advice for Other Organizations Conducting Similar Programs

Create sustainable and innovative partnerships with cultural and arts organizations in the community that draw on your organization’s strengths.

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Arts Discipline
Kinds of Creative Engagement/Program Focus
Creation of Original Work, Exhibiting Artwork, Viewing Artwork, Participate in a Class, Participate in a Workshop
Kinds of Creative Engagement/Program Focus Other
Interdisciplinary Connections
Creative engagement
Target Audience
Frail Older Adults, People with Alzheimer's Disease / Dementia
Adaptive Program Design
Hearing Disabilities, Visual Disabilities, Mobility Disabilities, Cognitive Disabilities, Intellectual Disabilities, Psychiatric Disabilities
Adaptive Program Design Other
Program Setting
Adult Day Care
Program Service Area / Geography
Suburban, Urban
Program Service Area / Geography Other