Norfolk care home takes part in national dementia project

Carers and family members of those living with dementia speak over Zoom

Carers and family members of those living with dementia were also interviewed over Zoom as part of the book, published this week. - Credit: Living Words

A celebrity-endorsed book published this week tells the stories of those living with dementia in a year like no other - including contributions from a Norfolk care home.

The book, titled Bringing the Inside Out, was put together by the charity Living Words, who have run residential workshops in care homes for the last 13 years. 

Naomi Daglish-Gage, activity co-ordinator at Woodstock Care Home in Gressenhall, near Dereham, said: “It’s really to let people hear the words of people affected by dementia, and let them realise that they do have a voice - and it’s a strong voice. The power and the emotion behind the words in the book is huge.”

Bringing the Inside Out was published on Monday, with a launch event on Wednesday. The book features a foreword by actor Brian Cox, while actor Christopher Eccleston has called it an “urgent and essential” text.

A draft version of the book's cover and blurb.

A draft version of the book's cover and blurb. - Credit: Living Words

The charity spoke to 15 care homes across the UK during the first lockdown. Carers were instructed over Zoom on how to speak to residents affected by dementia using a methodology known as ‘listening out loud’. 

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The technique involves asking simple, neutral questions to those affected by dementia and repeating their answers back at them, before writing those answers down exactly as they have been spoken. 

The answers are left unedited, even if they don’t appear to make sense, and line breaks are used to indicate pauses in speech. The result is spoken prose laid out like poetry. 

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“We don’t change it at all.” said Ms Daglish-Gage. 

“Sometimes the words wouldn’t exactly make sense to us, but because they hold meaning and they make sense to the individual that’s saying them, we keep them in exactly that order.” she added.

Ms Daglish-Gage said that there were several misconceptions around dementia.

“A lot of people overlook the actual person with the dementia, and they focus on everything else - they never really listen. This way you’re actually listening to the individual affected - which I think is hugely important.” she said.

“It’s very exciting to get the message out there, and we feel so privileged to have been part of the project and to represent Norfolk in it.” she added.

Bringing the Inside Out is available now, priced £8.99.

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