Posted on behalf of Kate McDonnell, Get Into Reading Manager, National Model Project
“ We need it, you see, for the head. It helps us remember the things, do you know what I mean? We all need it, you see. I like it because it means we talk about it – and you have to.”
(Dementia patient– and Wirral Get Into Reading group member)
For the last 8 months, Wirral project workers have been running weekly Get Into Reading groups in 9 Dementia Care Homes as part of a commission from Wirral PCT.
Reading with people with dementia can be hugely rewarding: sometimes it’s only tiny things – like sudden eye contact or a smile from a person who usually seems lost and absent – which reveal that a group member is being affected by the poems they’re sharing, but project workers have also reported that many residents seem much happier in the sessions, more sociable, calmer.
The results of our first quantitative dementia groups evaluation now confirm this. Care home staff were asked to complete a questionnaire about residents’ behaviour during and after sessions and the results are overwhelmingly positive:
- Less agitated during the sessions for 86% of reading group members
- Less agitated after the sessions for 84%
- Improved mood during the sessions for 86%
- Improved mood after the sessions for 76%
- Improved concentration during the sessions for 87%
- Improved social interaction during the sessions for 73%
Quotes from the staff further confirm the difference the project is making to the 100 people who have attended sessions during the last few months:
“It makes her very happy because she is spending time with other people and not on her own.”
“It keeps her less agitated and keeps her interested.”
“E really enjoys the company and spending time with different people.”
“During and after [the group] M is no longer agitated and it takes her mind off things.”
“F normally likes to be alone, but during the session she gets involved.”
“This uplifts her mood.”
“His attendance has made a significant difference to his life and status in the home.”
“She is never physically or verbally still except when in the group”
It’s difficult for us to imagine what it must be like to live with dementia and then hear a poem which sparks some broken part of memory to life, but here is how one resident describes it:
“I’m happy. Keep going, a new one might break through the wall.”
We have recently heard that the project is to be recommissioned.