• What can I say? 12 March 2018 | View comments

  • 12th March 2018 | By David Jolley


    Wednesday proved to be a surprising day. We met at a church on a hill near Werneth Low. The church has an extension, which was built only five years ago – sponsored by a donation with vision, supplemented by the church itself. This is good news and at odds with the picture of decline in church membership and perceived relevance. Five years on the extension is comfortable, busy, well used and well equipped: looking good.


    This day was ‘Action on Dementia’ and was to consider what churches can be doing.

    The Archdeacon set people at ease with his personal ownership of the dementias community. ‘Seeing the change which occurred to my strong and able grandfather in his last months, as he became frail and unable to hold a conversation, was shocking and has never left me’.

    The very best of local GPs ran through the basics of what dementia looks like and what pathologies underlie the clinical symptoms. People responded warmly to his trusted exposition. One lady shared her observations of a relative who had Fronto-Temporal Dementia and progressed to Motor Neurone Disease. This way learning comes naturally and with real meaning.


    There were contributions from a man who thanks God for his faith and for the love and support of friends and family as he continues life with a diagnosis of dementia. New staff from Willow Wood Hospice pledged themselves to pick up the threads of good work there, which has established the power of a palliative approach toward dementia wherever it is encountered and however advanced it has become.


    We all joined the reminiscence tunes of Oldham’s ‘Singing for the Brain’: from Daisy, Daisy to Que Serra Serra. This was thoroughly enjoyable and brought us into the afternoon in lively spirits. This was just as well for we were then privileged to hear about two more local initiatives:


    The Moravian Church at Dukinfield provides a dementia café which it calls Dementia Warriors. http://www.moravian.org.uk/index.php/uk-congregations-list-for-the-moravian-church/lancashire-district/dukinfield. This offers a range of activities and generous fellowship. The enthusiastic description of how money was found to fund this and then spread wonderfully thin, we heart-warming and even entertaining.


    Deb’s Fidler is a young woman who came to Mottram as a youth worker. http://www.mottramec.co.uk/index.htm. She is good at this and has been effective and successful but she knew, and her pastor appreciated, that her unfulfilled wish was to develop more activity for older people, including those with dementia. The result is a vibrant visionary opening up new ideas to actual practice: mixed age activities including a café, trips to places of interest, big nights out and ‘Mottram Monday Matinee’. MMM is a regular recreation of cinema, as it was with red velvet curtains, ices at the interval and films which are classics from years gone by.


    People are drawn in and benefit physically, emotionally, socially and spiritually.

    You have to believe it – It happens in Mottram (which was the adoptive home of L.S. Lowry for his later years).


    Debs is studying spirituality amongst older people at Cliff College: http://www.cliffcollege.ac.uk/students/shortcourses/cliff-certificates/certificate-in-ministry-among-older-people/


    Follow that with a dementia network meeting at Willow Wood Hospice and the sharing of great practices there: Public Health are leading on Dementia Action Week – which will include music from a Sax Quartet. There is a concert later this week. Several new dementia cafes have been established. Willow Wood is offering a new counselling course for carers of people with dementia.


    Quite marvellously the two relatively new Admiral Nurses who are employed within Tameside general have support for several pioneering ideas for people with dementia and their carers. They have attracted interest from a trainee anaesthetist who developed activities for patients with dementia at his previous hospital and wants to help here too.


    A day like this. A week like this. What more can we ask for? What can I say?


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