Dementia Friends: Some thoughts on ‘Dementiaville’

Dementia Friends Champion Helen Morris offers some thoughts on Channel 4’s Dementiaville series

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Everyone in my world is talking about Dementiaville. I wonder if you saw the first programme of the series on Thursday 4 June at 9pm on Channel 4?

There’s two more weeks to run and the first programme features a care home for people with advanced dementia, where the ‘Dementia Care Matters’ approach is put in practice.

This approach recognizes that a person in the later stages of dementia cannot relate to everyday life in the same way we do. They often talk about times gone by as if they are here and now. This approach reinforces the accepted thinking that it is unhelpful and stressful to correct their view and that we should enter it and encourage happy thoughts from where they are.

The care home staff discuss the long-standing controversy surrounding this approach about whether this collusion constitutes deception.

Initially I was concerned it was indeed ‘lying’ but then I thought hard about my own approach. Although I avoid outright untruths, I do nod and appear to see the things my friends in care homes point out to me. If you agree you have to join the person in their world because they can no longer join you in yours, then you have to accept you will be unable to be 100 per cent truthful.

But the people we love are often less than 100 per cent honest to spare our feelings, so I think we can argue this is also a way of being polite and respecting that people’s feelings matter a great deal.

I guess everyone will draw their own conclusions if they watch the series. I think any TV that brings the experience of dementia into people’s front rooms is doing a terrific job.

I’d also like to thank some wonderfully generous Saddleworth organisations who have raised funds for the Alzheimer’s Society recently. I am thrilled and it makes delivering Dementia Friends sessions feel ever more worthwhile.

Next month I will be considering the work of an incredible church group who have created something really special for residents with advanced dementia in two Oldham carehomes.

Meanwhile please don’t forget Dementia Friends sessions which I am always happy to run for free – just call me on 07976 702171 or email or check or see if I have any public sessions on the website


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