Six weekly sessions with volunteer training, led by Susanna Howard of ‘Living Words: Empowerment through Story, April-June 2011. Our shared responses to her themes, as we sat in a circle, formed the first poem. Moving to separate tables, for person-centred poetry, volunteers each worked with a person and carer. An object offered to each triggered remarkable memories, which the pair discussed together and the volunteer noted verbatim. These words formed a poem, Susanna marking line breaks.
“I feel innovated. We just talked. I've never heard anything like it. It's stimulating.You have to be a part of it. It just comes upon you, develops as you do it, talking. People are so fabulous, it makes you open up. I never thought about these things before. It’s very therapeutic. I couldn’t wait until the next class.” Participant with early onset Alzheimer's disease.
“I was walking on air to feel I was not alone in coping with a person who is changing.” Daughter relieved to share the experience, after first session.
"It's good to remember that we can just close our eyes and go into ourselves. Negative and positive can come together." Participant with dementia.
“Susanna did very well to keep Mum engaged and stimulated,” wrote son whose mother now communicates little.
“Very helpful and useful . It’s good and interactive,” wrote carer.
“I felt it brought us together, inspired us,” wrote volunteer.
“The challenge for me in this pilot has been to act on my feet, bringing all my planning and experience together to ensure complete person-centred care and learning for both person with dementia and their carer.” Course leader.