In this section, findings from the “Arts-based Delivery of an Innovative Model of Aged Care: Systematizing and Disseminating the Virtual Eastern Bay Villages Model of Aging in Place” research project are described in three different ways:

Firstly, through three short videos in which participants describe their art works: “Who I was before the VEBV” and “Who I am after the VEBV.” Their art works and poems provide an understanding of central elements of the VEBV’s success;

Secondly, participants two art works and poems about their lives before and after joining the VEBV reveal significant features of the VEBV, and lastly a written overview of the project’s central findings, which are divided into the four sections.

These short videos

Featuring three of the workshop participants, introduce this findings section. This is because the participants descriptions of their art works, illustrating how they felt before and after joining the VEBV, articulate the impacts of becoming a VEBV member. For example, Jan speaks about how busy she was before joining the VEBV, but how this stopped when she had an accident. Being forced to slow down enabled her to join the VEBV, while the friendly welcome she received and ongoing support have helped enormously in her recovery.


Before and After

Viewing Change and Important Features of the VEBV through the Before and After the VEBV Artworks

There were two parts to the art and meditation workshop and it was in the second part of the workshop that the artists created the art works you will view in this section. In the first part of the workshop, they were led through introductory contemplative and art practices, including ways to use colour and mark making to express their body, mind, emotions and spirit, gentle meditative breath practices, and symbol making exercises.

While in the second part of the workshop they drew on these earlier practices to create their art works about life before and after the VEBV. By viewing the art works and reading the accompanying poems and information you will discover how becoming a member of the VEBV has changed participants lives, and in so doing identify important features of the successful VEBV model of ageing in place.

You will find that before joining the VEBV many participants had been isolated and lonely often due to ill health. Joining the VEBV led to them making new friends, joining in activities that they enjoyed, and helping each other, which resulted in a number of the participants describing the VEBV as a “second family”.

Workshop Participants - Whakatāne, March 2023


It was just like…

How would you say, just, just 

just twirling around, 

not doing anything in particular

She’s flying free

she's about to take off

I'm taking off. 

I think I've come to a stage where I'm free, 

I can do anything I like 

There’s nothing, no inhibitions, nothing can stop me.

When sharing her work with the other artists at the end of the workshop Barbara said:

“Before joining the Eastern Bay Villages I felt uncertain, shy, nervous. But after attending several meetings I felt less worried and
much calmer.”


I am here, I am OK

I care for others and

I am happy or 

so I thought

Describing his art work depicting how he felt before joining the VEBV, Chris said:

 “This painting is just a colour thing, and that was me in a circle before EBV, I was living in my own little circle at the time because of my problems. I was okay, well I thought I was okay, and I probably was okay. I could have carried on living life without the Eastern Bay Villages. But once I got involved with Eastern Bay Villages things changed."

So the EBV’s been an eye opener for sure

It’s a joy caring for the people

EBV is great 

Lots of faith in our group

Describing these changes after the VEBV, Chris said

“Since I've joined Eastern Bay Villages, I‘ve found a lot more colour. A lot more, opening, a lot more opportunities. So, it’s been really good and I've met some very lovely people, it's been awesome.


Very shy

Lack of communication

Very quiet

No self-esteem

No confidence


Describing her art work depicting how she felt before joining the VEBV, Fiona said:

“This is me here before I came to the EBV, very unbalanced, I wasn’t myself, I was very unsure, there was no trust, there was no trust at all. I didn't know how to get along with people. I was closed up for a long time, unable to open-up, to share what was going on.”

Not shy

Able to speak up

Very friendly with these lovely people

I like sharing in conversations

Joining and sharing 

Morning tea and yummy food

Fiona then spoke about the changes she experienced after joining the VEBV saying

“and today with the EBV, I just love it. I love being around people, I love sharing with others, I have opened up quite a lot, I’m not shy anymore. I’m able to say what I want to say and this is what the EBV is all about. We’ve got voices, we’ve got choices, we’re allowed to voice whatever we want, and just be ourselves.”


I was reclusive

Alone separate

Too busy

Describing her art work depicting how she felt before joining the VEBV, Jan said:

“This was one that I did, which really tells me to slow down and observe more, rather than think I can actually do everything in a very short time, which is what I've always done. It’s about before I joined the Eastern Bay Villages, which is gosh, so long ago now, so that was before, just too busy!”

I needed a pattern

and that’s what the EBV 

has given me

Then describing her art work depicting how she felt after joining the VEBV, Jan said:

“and then this one is after, it just shows you how people can join together and help each other to be more in themselves, and that for me is what it's all about, yep.”


New in town

In need of companionship

Considering doing different things

Describing her “Before the VEBV” art work Mary said:

“This is about how you strive to get some support in your struggles in life. There’s the brown for the earth, and then the sky and the sun, and that’s how nature works. So that’s how I felt, ‘never give up’ because the sun always comes up again.”

Mary also spoke about needing to reinforce this message for herself as she has aged and struggled with ill health.

Now I have more people I know

I get more out of life

I have fun with games afternoons

I have an extended family

Mary’s painting about her life after the VEBV symbolises the establishment of her new life, with the path up to her new home illustrating that it has been a journey and taken some time. She spoke about how becoming a member of the VEBV has helped her

“normalize my life, to adjust to my new environment and all that. It's all about getting help, to fit in with what you have to, with the new environment and reduced capacities, whether it's physical or mental and all that too. Yeah, it has helped me to settle in.”


“I’ve written Tuhoe in the middle because where ever I go I have to make sure that I represent my tribe.

I’m a member of a tribe, and it’s important that I uphold what we are as a group of people, who are strong, and our family, our home near the Urewera, our language, and all of who we are. I am the present leader of our family so I must make sure that I act like one.

Then above that there’s the sun up the top with the land underneath that’s the green, and underneath that shows all the growth coming from the seeds of the punga tree.”

Molly described the VEBV as a second family, which she spoke about when speaking about different aspects of her art work saying, “that’s me (the ‘K’ shape), Ko au, still standing strong, and my family here (the green curling shapes in the top right), and the signs from Rua Kēnana’s whare in Maungapōhatu (hearts, diamonds, clubs and spades, bottom right) where my daughter was brought up, and all of us together with the Te Kokoru Manaakitanga, Eastern Bay Villages.”






Not living life to the full

Life in tatters

But gradually friends, family, improvement,

I was starting a new life

Describing her “Before the VEBV” artwork, Renata said

“Yeah I’d been going through a lot, so I was just confirming, hey “I am who I am” and tough if you don’t like it!”




Living life to the full with new man in my life

Life back on track 

Second Family



Living well and fully

Busy (Renata added a smiley face)

Then Renata’s “After the VEBV" artwork used colour and shapes to represent connections as she said

“It’s all the connections with the people at the EBV, yeah, they’re all the connections with each person at EBV. I added all those colours and shapes because to me, that's all the things that we do at EBV. You know, like last year we went to a big stadium in Kawerau, and we had games, and it was an all-day event and wow, was that fun!”


I was a loner

Spending time in my own company

I was in a rut

Speaking about the art work she created describing how her life was before the VEBV, Sharon said:

“This one is before, it's sort of like pretty much ‘turmoil’, you know, sort of up and down, not really knowing what I was going to do, to be honest.”

I’m more outgoing

I’m enjoying meeting new people 

And being involved

Then describing what changed after she joined the VEBV, Sharon said,

“My second one was basically about appreciating the caring and the sharing, and meeting a lot of people, I’ve really enjoyed that. And you know, the support that you get from each other, and actually, a number of us, we text each other every few days to see how everybody is, so it’s really caring, very caring.”

Arts-based delivery of an Innovative Model of Aged Care: Systematizing and Disseminating the Virtual Eastern Bay Villages: Te Kokoru Manaakitanga (VEBV: TKM) Model of Aging in Place research project

In this community and arts-based research we aimed to identify key features of the successful VEBV: TKM’s Aging in Place organization. After in-depth interviews and data analysis the key features of the VEBV: TKM, as described by its member, are detailed below: 


What sets the VEBV: TKM apart from many other community-based organizations working with older people is its emphasis on, and support of, members agency, skills, and experience, as opposed to service provision (please see: In contrast other organizations working with older people frequently emphasis the ‘what’ of their work, that is the provision of services related to: personal care, household chores, meals, money management and health etc. While the VEBV: TKM acknowledges and addresses these important areas of support, it focuses on the ’how’ of what it does. Or in other words its culture and the manner in which it works.

The VEBV: TKM encourages and supports what is often invisible, and unconsciously expected in organizations - primarily emotional labour, and emotional intelligence. It does this in a variety of ways, including having co-ordinators who are skilled connectors or ‘people specialists’, and the encouragement of certain traits in its members by the coordinators and through the organisation’s values, particularly its core value of recognising its members skills and abilities and encouraging them to connect and help each other. All the participants spoke about valuing the supportive culture of the VEBV: TKM and the diversity of its members. This is supported by the VEBV: TKM’s two whare (Tāngata Whenua and Tāngata Tiriti) model with Māori and Pākehā (European) co-chairs and coordinators. Common elements of best practice in organisations that work with older people, such as respecting and valuing older people, and creating age-friendly environments, are worthy pursuits but until emotional labour and intelligence are valued and held to be of equal importance to those elements, aspirations for best practice can remain unfulfilled in practice.

The Findings

In this section the findings are divided into 4 central themes that illustrate the key features of the VEBV: TKM. They are drawn from the participants interviews and the emphasis, in these interviews that they put on factors important to them

Theme One:

What brings people to the VEBV: TKM

  • Impacts of major life changes, such as a loss of identity, fear of meeting new people, loneliness, and isolation, brought individuals to the VEBV: TKM. 
  • Related, and important to consider when creating or working in Aging in Place organisations, are individuals’ histories underpinning these life changes and immediate circumstances.
  • The coordinators of Ageing in Place organisations need to be great connectors, or ‘people specialists,’ as they are pivotal in attracting members and maintaining a healthy, welcoming supportive organisation.

When speaking about why they became VEBV: TKM members, every participant told stories of a major life change, which in some cases was traumatic. The stress, anxiety and depression that can result from these changes is emphasised by scholars such as Bassil, Ghandour & Grossberg, 2011 and Verill & Beck, 2000, with the latter focusing on “late-life anxiety”. The changes participants described resulted from, illness, accident, the loss of a relationship/life partner, issues with housing and fear of homelessness, or having to shift after living in one place for a long time. The breakdown of traditional family structures is also important here. It is something that Mary lamented when she spoke of the loneliness she suffered after her children and grandchildren moved to live in different parts of New Zealand. The issues Mary raised about loneliness and the break-down of family structures is well understood in the field of ageing studies (Berg-Weger & Morley, 2020; Fried, 2020; Wenger 1996). Because family-structures may never be what they were there will be a greater need for Ageing in Place organisations like the VEBV: TKM.

In Summary:
When creating or running an Ageing in Place organisation:
it is important to have coordinators who are skilled connectors, and to not only consider member’s immediate circumstances, and some of the common issues related ageing such as declining health, loneliness, and isolation, but the circumstances leading up to those more obvious issues. This requires the strong emotional intelligence that was repeatedly described in the participants interviews. They also spoke of allowing time for people to adjust when they first become members, and the need to be open to the many different ‘personality types’ of members. As Mary said, “The group thing is alright but for some it’s easier to express themselves than for others.” When describing the changes she had experience Mary explained:

"you know, you’re suddenly thrown out of the life you had. It was sort of just like cut off and I actually miss all the input we had before, you know, because it’s just gone…and I was talking the other day to one of the men there who looked a bit lonely on the Monday, so I started talking to him and he said, “it's quite hard, just till you got to that level that the others are in already.”

- Mary

Theme Two:

What Makes the VEBV: TKM work

  • Coordinators need to be strong connectors or ‘people specialists’ for the organisation and members to flourish.
  • Certain traits of VEBV: TKM members are supported and encouraged by the coordinators and values of the VEBV: TKM, particularly its core value of acknowledging members skills and abilities and supporting them to connect and help each other.
  • What members like about the VEBV: TKM, and why they remain members. This theme is divided across three subthemes: a) Having the opportunity to make friends, which appeared to be the most important aspect of membership; b), the VEBV: TKM activities (which provided scaled entry points into making friends) and the opportunity to participate at their own pace, to be able to develop other activities, and connect with each other outside of the VEBV: TKM activities; c) The help, information and support they were offered, and the support to offer help, information, and support to their fellow VEBV: TKM members.

In Summary: When creating or running an Ageing in Place organisation: here are three central features to consider, and over and above these features is the need for the strong emotional intelligence of all involved (Wilson & Saklofske, 2018; Chen, Peng & Fang, 2016):

  • Coordinators are not only important for bringing members to the organisation, but they also need certain attributes for the flourishing of the organisation and its members. All of the participants named these attributes, describing the coordinators as: outgoing, friendly, non-judgemental, helpful and patient, good organisers and professional, supportive, willing to help, and great connectors.
  • Certain traits of members need to be supported and encouraged by the coordinators and values of the VEBV: TKM, particularly the core value of facilitating members ability to connect and help each other. Attributes of their fellow VEBV: TKM members that participants said they liked were their: kindness, thoughtfulness, that they were non-judgemental, supportive, caring, loving, and they had a genuine desire to help each other.
  • Having the opportunity, a) via the organizations activities to gain and maintain friendships is central; b) it is also helpful to have a range of activities starting with those that offer an easy entry point, such as a coffee morning that only lasts a few hours progressing to day-long activities, such as visits to local art galleries or gardens; c) additionally, it is helpful if members are supported to create ‘break away’ groups, and have the ability to suggest additional activities and projects, as the VEBV: TKM members have done with their digital fluency and transport groups, and that coordinators are regularly in contact with members about upcoming activities and encourage members to join these activities (please see:; d) lastly, it is not only important to offer members the help, information and support they require in a ‘personalised way’, but it is equally important to support members to offer help, information and support to each other.

Theme Three:

The Workshop

  • While art-making and meditation were not entirely new for some of the workshop participants none had experienced the Meditative Process Art (MPA) method before. Despite it being entirely new for them the participants spoke of enjoying and gaining benefit from the MPA method’s practices.
  • Bearing in mind that the MPA method was new for all the participants it appears that the scaffolded design of the workshop, where participants move from preliminary to more complex practices, helped participants readily engage with the art and meditation practices.
  • Participants had different reasons for attending the workshop, such as curiosity about art and meditation. The benefits they gained from these practices like heightened self-awareness, suggest possible new VEBV: TKM activities – such as art-making and meditation. These could also be useful in all Aging in Place organisations. Please see: Klimecki et al’s (2019) review of meditation for healthy ageing, and McFadden and Basting’s (2010) report on healthy aging and creative engagement.
  • The workshop practices elicited heightened self-awareness, which led to participants realisations about themselves, including how they had changed as a result of becoming a VEBV: TKM member. The changes, revealed through the making and reflection on their art works, occurred both in the workshop and through VEBV: TKM membership. Change through art making is something that Malchiodi (2012) emphasises in her exploration of creativity and aging, while Lander-McCarthy and Bockweg, 2013 speak about the use of contemplative and creative practice to introduce the concept of ‘transcendence’ as a more holistic criterion for measuring successful and healthy ageing.
  • The sharing at the beginning and end of the workshops supported increased understanding and heightened empathy between participants, suggesting the benefits of including contemplative art, sharing circles, and similar practices, in the VEBV: TKM and other Ageing in Place organizations. While speaking of a different setting Berg-Weger and Morley (2020), confirm the benefits of sharing circles for older people
Workshop Participants - Whakatāne, March 2023

Although none of the participants had experienced the Meditative Process Art (MPA) method before the workshop, some had practiced meditation and/or done art at school, or participated in craft activities. Nonetheless, the particular combination of Process Art and gentle mediation was very new for the participants. As Mary said, “it was an absolute new experience for me doing that workshop.” Concurring Fiona said: “I really thought, you know that you’d sit there, and fold your legs and you’d meditate through the mind and the soul, I didn’t realize the mahi (work) that went with it. But I thought, ‘no I’ll give it go – I’ll give it a try.’ And I was actually so glad that I did because it blew me away!” Some of the participants like Chris were initially apprehensive, as he recounted, “Well, when I walked in there, it was funny, because you had everything down there, all the pens or paints, it looked pretty impressive to tell you the true. And I was looking and thinking oh,’ what am I going to do?’ But I do remember thinking ‘this is going to be fun,’ and I was quite happy, it was good.”

In Summary - When creating or running an Ageing in Place organisation:

  • Contemplative and creative practice sessions that include sharing circles at the beginning and end of the sessions can be enjoyable and beneficial for older people. There is a growing awareness of the need for such practices often proposed by scholars working on ‘healthy ageing’, widely understood. Such as the work of: Berg-Weger & Morley, 2020; Jansson & Pitkälä, 2021; Klimecki et al., 2019; Lander-McCarthy & Bockweg , 2013; Malchiodi, 2012; McFadden and Basting, 2010; Nilsson, Bülow & Kazemi, 2015, and Yuen & Baime, 2006.
  • The variety of reasons that participants gave for attending the art and meditation workshop provided insight into participants areas of interest while highlighting pursuits that could be useful to cater for in Aging in Place organizations. These included an interest in art and meditation, or a desire to explore these practices further, an interest in and desire to support research on older people, curiosity about, and a desire for new experiences, learning about anything ‘outside of the box,’ and a desire for self-expression and understanding, described by one of the participants as a way “to try and find myself within myself.”
  • In addition to the benefits gained, and pleasure participants experienced in the workshop, they also described how engaging the MPA method led to heightened self-awareness, and the development of meta-awareness about aspects of their lives, including impacts of joining the VEBV: TKM. Providing opportunities to engage in a non-medicalised and enjoyable self-development/self-awareness process, that includes sharing circles, in a supportive, non-judgmental, scaffolded manner can be very useful for Aging in Place organizations to include in their activities.

Theme Four:

Realisations and change resulting from participation in the workshop:

  • Experience of the MPA methods’ contemplative art practices revealed important subjective aspects of participants understandings of themselves.
  • The importance of providing opportunities for older people to gain heighten self-awareness is growing (Howie, Coulter & Feldman, 2004). 
  • The participants use of contemplative art allowed them to uncover, explore and express unconscious, subjective experience that elicited useful realisations, so providing an opportunity to rework the past, release negative feelings and memories, and confirm positive change (Potts et al., 2014).

Leading on from the last section on the heightened self-awareness that resulted from workshop participation, this section focuses on the insights and change workshop participants experienced. Their descriptions related both to insights and changes they had experienced in the workshop, and those that resulted from joining the VEBV: TKM. The art works completed in the second half of the workshop that depicted how participants felt before and after joining the VEBV: TKM clearly illustrate the changes participants experienced.

Additionally, the preliminary art works created in the first half of the workshop, starting with a self-portrait, then a series of symbols depicting participants felt understanding of their body, mind, spirit and feelings, power, and pleasure and strength, also revealed important subjective aspects of participants understandings of themselves. These symbols can be found in the Artist’s section of this virtual exhibition.

Go to Artists Page

Eliciting subjective experience and enhancing self-awareness may not immediately seem relevant for Aging in Place organizations but there is a growing awareness of the need for the provision of these kinds of experiences for healthy aging, and for what Lander-McCarthy & Bockweg (2013) call transcendence. While there are multiple aspects of transcendence Lander-McCarthy & Bockweg (2013) propose that self-transcendence is an “inherent process that is a gradual, nonlinear expansion of conceptual boundaries; that is, one’s personal limits or internal rules and expectations of oneself, others, and the world” (2013, p. 86). With the outcomes of transcendence being “a sense of meaning in life, well-being, life satisfaction, and a decreased fear of death” (ibid).

Chris - After the VEBV
Jan - After the VEBV
Barbara -After the VEBV

In Summary - When creating or running an Ageing in Place organisation:

  • There is a growing awareness of the need for the provision of practices that heighten self-awareness for healthy ageing.
  • Participants ready access to a personal symbol language, and comfort with art and meditation that developed quickly across the course of the project’s workshop highlights the suitability of using contemplative art with older people for heightened self-awareness, and its viability for use in Ageing in Place organisations.
  • The benefits of art and meditation for healthy aging, including the ability of the arts to describe what is difficult to put into words (Blumenfeld-Jones, 2012), are increasingly understood in aging research, including in the field of community and arts-based research with older people. 
  • Creatively working with subjective experience, difficult histories and repressed feelings allows older people to gain insight into their histories and lives, and make changes to support healthy aging.

In Conclusion

The transformative power of art-making and contemplative art making is well known in art therapy, and is increasingly being recognised in art-based research, and in the field of healthy ageing (Clifford et al., 2021; Lawton & La Porte, 2013; Miller, Potts, 2022; Stephenson, 2021; Watson et al., 2023).

As our aims in this community and arts-based research project were to identify the elements of the VEBV: TKM’s success, we were pleased to find that for members of the VEBV: TKM, using art and meditation was not only a pleasurable and useful experience for them, but that their reflections, detailed above, have offered invaluable insight into what makes the VEBV: TKM a successful Ageing in Place organisation.


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