We are known for our work with people experiencing advanced dementias and living in care homes, and we're also creating a new communities programme for people in the earlier stages of dementia. We are committed to working with people for the length of their dementia journey.
TAKING PART IN CARE HOME RESIDENCIES
LISTENING OUT LOUD
What this means is that our team of professional artists work one-to-one with participants, accurately writing the participant’s sounds and words, whatever they are, down in the moment. Over time these words and sounds present themselves as poems or pieces, and then books – not by editing or rearranging a person’s words without them, or trying to ‘make sense' of them. Their books are for them; and once they are completed, are read with the person, to validate their words and expression.
Voices that were assumed lost are found again. People who have been devalued feel listened to and empowered. Life for participants is once again for living rather than merely existing. These words are an extraordinary resource which is developed for other creative projects including (to date) printed anthologies, performances, films, songs, podcasts and exhibitions.
You writing my words and reading them back to me, I have to tell you this is like medicine to me!
Irene, Care UK resident, London
Our care home projects, running for periods of 8 to 15 weeks, improve communication and wellbeing for residents and staff alike. By hosting a Living Words residency, you will get to know individual residents in new ways and staff will have the chance to talk about their own experiences, as well as hearing how the people they care for are feeling about their own lives. We encourage care home staff to feel heard, and for them to hear or read, share and act upon the residents’ words. It’s all about finding creative ways for staff to nurture both themselves and the people they work with.
After establishing a relationship of equality and connection with Geoff, his words were written down and, in an act of co-creation between artist Susanna and Geoff, his words became pieces (poems, if you like) that became the content of his Living Words book. His words were edited but not replaced or moved around by Susanna, as we constructed his book.
When we first met Geoff’s daughter, Julie, she thought: ‘You wont get anything out of Dad. Susanna must be a crackpot’.
But when Geoff’s book was given to him and a copy given to Julie, she read his words with him and then contacted us, saying:
Susanna with participant Peter in London, 2016.
I have just been to visit my Dad, I can't tell you how much his book of words affected me! Dad and I read it together… The book is like poetry - I got so emotional reading it, I had to go in search of a tissue halfway through! … It is such an insight into dementia… I don't know what other residents' books are like but I suspect they are all such a revelation - especially to their relatives.
This is his daughter Julie’s favourite piece of her dad’s, it isn’t in the anthology.
Geoff’s family and friends from all over the world shared his words – from Liverpool to New Zealand. His daughter Julie spoke at our charity launch and even inspired the title of one of our theatre pieces ‘Crackpot’!
Geoff passed away in 2016, but his words live on.
When a participant dies, their words and poems from the book are often read at funerals and the book remains with the family as a potent memorial and evidence that they were 'still here' until the end of their lives.