Monday, 14 November 2011

Dementia creativity

Conducting worship in Homes for the Elderly has become a much harder and more subtle task in the last few years. This was the clear message when most of the lay people from this parish who are involved in this ministry had supper together here recently.

The feeling was that the costs involved means that increasingly only those with acute needs are admitted. The experience shared was that ten years ago the majority of more able attenders at worship might assist the minority who found participation more difficult for physical or mental reasons, but that today those who find it difficult to follow what is going on are in the majority. The creative responses evident included much less reliance on printed sheets to follow.

One of those involved has been assisting with recollection events: discussions alongside props with those with dementia of childhood and domestic life activities. One suggestion which emerged was that we should work with what people might in similar circumstances say about things such as the Sunday School which they attended.

I shared some of the things blogged here in the past about dementia, including the false moves of valuing people by their attractiveness or accomplishments. I had also picked up a further recent reference to the weakness of our sometimes instinctive defining of personhood by memory itself: it was pointed out that there is much we forget and much false memory which we create, so that even defining personhood by what those of us without dementia remember is in some ways mistaken.

Although I had thought that offering some training opportunities might be a result of our evening, those involved, alongside these sorts of reflections, were able to share a whole range of their own exploring and resources, and one has already come back since to talk about subtle changes in her approach at the most recent such service as a result.

Meanwhile, the picture is an indication that the cracking between the tower and south aisle at St Nicolas’ has not been resolved by the remedial work earlier this year as we had thought, so we have a structural engineer booked to come and do more extensive (and no doubt expensive) investigation soon.

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