We love sharing good practice, and we wanted to shares what Alison Taylor who is a Lay Reader at St Aidans, Penn Fields does when they go into a Nursing or Residential home to lead a service.
"We go around talking to them (the residents) first of all. Then we do a little service which is constructed of prayers which they would know if they've been to church. Then we have a little message but it's usually something visual and go around letting them touch or see whatever it is. Then we do the bread and wine, explaining what it is- the wafer dipped in the wine on their tongue. And if they don't want bread and wine we just pray with them. Then we sing a song, a hymn and finish. Some of them who really didn't respond at all before, now respond, so they must have some impression that they've enjoyed it when we've been there before, which is really lovely.
"I know it's really important just to go in and hold their hand… or just to say hello and make eye contact so that they know you are there is a friend, not someone that's going to make them do something they don't want to do. We always say to people, ' this is what we are going to do, is that okay with you?'
"And one lady said 'Oh, no, no', so we thought we'd have to be careful, just prayed quietly, then we started singing a song to start with and she was there joining quite happily so that was okay."
Those couple of paragraphs reveal some great good practice for sharing services with those living with dementia:
- Start with making connections
- Use familiar liturgy, dependent on who you have in the service
- Be aware of using different senses, use objects, smells, tastes and sounds
- Explain what you are doing
- Sing- familiar songs, even repeating the same verse
- Use touch and eye contact
- Gain permission where possible.
This blog comes from excepts of a conversation that was recorded in January 2018 with Revd David Primrose, Revd Robert Carter, Alison Taylor and Su Parker at St Aidans, Penn Fields.