Sometimes I walk into situations where care is being provided, in family homes and care settings and I wonder, who needs to be cared for here? The obvious answer is the person with dementia who is experiencing multiple symptoms which are increasing anxiety and isolation and causing physical impairments. But what about their carer who is experiencing loss, sleep depravation and relationship breakdown? What about the member of care staff who feels under pressure and under-equipped to manage the emotionally and physically complex needs of the people they care?
Bright Shadow’s mission is to enable people living with dementia and those who care for them to live well and to thrive. We use performance and sensory techniques to provide opportunities for self-expression, a celebration of the present moment and relationship enhancing experiences. We have a vision of a brighter quality of care that impacts positively on the wellbeing of both people with dementia and those that care for them.
Our unique Zest workshops use the imagination and sensory stimuli to take participants on a journey to different places and spaces. These workshops enable people to take part in performance activities such as movement, music, storytelling, puppetry and many more along the way. Zest workshops are distinctive in their focus on celebrating the here and now, allowing us to meet each participant where they are and affirm who they are in the present moment. Through independent evaluation these workshops have been proven to positively impact the wellbeing of people living with dementia.
Over the last seven years we have taken our Zest practice and developed training for care staff to enable them to add more creativity and sensory stimuli into their activities in order to increase engagement and wellbeing within their settings. The other focus of our training is to encourage care workers to think about themselves. How would they like to be treated when they are older? How might they feel if they weren’t treated in this way? What do staff need from their roles in order to have good wellbeing? What impact would it have of the people they care for if staff had a high level of wellbeing within their workplace?
Bright Shadow are addressing the needs of family carers by producing activity resource kits full of ideas of things to do and talk about with your loved one with dementia. We are also taking our Zest workshops into the community and working with local cultural venues to make arts provision more inclusive and accessible for people living with dementia.
Our presentation at the Living Well with Dementia event will look at not just the outcomes of high quality, engaging activity but also why the arts and creativity can create better quality relationships and why this is so vitally important in developing models of care that truly enable everyone affected by dementia to live well and thrive.
We will look at ways to build relationship and increase wellbeing in care settings, through multi-generational interactions, at home and through community groups.