Orpington town centre was once again at the heart of Dementia Action Week events in Bromley borough. Led by Orpington 1st and the Bromley Dementia Support Hub, there were multiple events in and around Orpington High Street.
Local businesses and organisations were invited to the Virtual Dementia Tour on Orpington High Street – a powerful, interactive experience of what it can be like to have dementia. 26 people from local businesses had their sight, hearing, touch and mobility temporarily impaired, to experience how dementia may affect a person and cause problems in their everyday lives. The experience helped better understand how their business and organisations can better support people living with dementia and the dementia is much more than just memory loss.
Tesco Orpington held a Dementia Fair for the general public, hosting stalls from local dementia charities and services, providing information to customers with about the support available to both people living with dementia and their carers.
Over 85 people attended an indoor street party to celebrate both the Royal Wedding and Dementia Action Week 2018 run by Mytime Active. The Crofton Halls venue was festooned with bunting and we were all treated to performances from Primetime tap dancers and a live three-piece band, whilst guests enjoyed afternoon tea and cake.
Paul Robson and his Mytime Active team were awarded the ‘Forget Me Not’ sticker to display at The Walnuts Leisure Centre in Orpington. The Walnuts is the first Mytime Active leisure centre to receive this recognition as a dementia-friendly business.
Ann Wilbourn and Chris King have created over 150 Dementia Friends in the borough 27 of those were during Dementia Action Week at Dementia Friends sessions led by Chris. Biggin Hill, The Pavilion, Beckenham Public Hall and West Wickham Leisure Centres have all started the journey to becoming recognised as dementia-friendly sites.
Service at St James the Great Church
On Sunday 20th May, a service was held at St James the Great Church in Petts Wood to mark the start of Dementia Awareness Week. Led by Father David Camilleri, it was a beautiful time of poetry, singing and prayer with an opportunity for our guests to receive a blessing from Father David should they so wish. The service was followed by refreshments served by the church’s Girl Guide unit and helping them towards earning their Community Badge. The occasion reflected the importance of reaching out and caring for the wider community.
Dementia Action Week at the Princess Royal University Hospital (PRUH)
Staff at the Princess Royal University Hospital on Farnborough Common in Orpington, launched Dementia Action Week 2018 also celebrating the Royal Wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, with patients on some wards. Music, songs, quizzes and reminiscence activities gave patients the change to get together and chat with each other on Friday 18th May.
Three other days during Dementia Action Week saw Princess Royal University Hospital host a cake and dementia information stand. Staff had enthusiastically overwhelmed the stand with home baked cakes exchanged for donations from people visiting the stand. All donations will go towards purchasing activities for our dementia patients in the hospital.
Four artists led groups through different art activities to explore personal identity and the brain.
Home, Memories and Identity
Artist, Nicole Morris, led a group considered their ideas of a perfect home, sketching out ideas and thoughts and later combining these in a collaborative print of this imagined house.
Amongst discussion about the necessary features of this perfect home, people with dementia began to share personal memories and stories from their lives about the homes they lived in. Even when more recent memories were hazy, the older memories were still quite vivid for many people and they took great delight in recalling and sharing stories from earlier in their lives. Such memories play a central role in a person’s sense of personal identity, and this kind of activity can contribute hugely to the wellbeing of someone experiencing memory loss or dementia.
One lady shared memories of dancing late into the night at big parties in the barn attached to her Italian family home. For another keen cook, the kitchen was the most important part of the home, providing a place for cooking and eating together.
Abstract Art and Memory
Artist, Sophie Michael, led another group in the creation of abstract traces of themselves using objects found about their person. As these objects were laid on photosensitive paper, the colour pigment of uncovered areas was gradually degraded by the sunlight, leaving silhouettes of the objects that had once been there. Undergoing further processing, the images became increasingly abstract, with the occasional identifiable feature amongst more roughly defined shapes and patterns.
“I was struck by the way this process reflected the way memory traces continually change over time, interacting with our current selves and becoming looser and more abstract in form, yet remaining rooted in our past experiences and interpretations of reality.”
Crafts and Symbols as Expressions of the Dementia Experience
Artist, Natasha Cossey, and her group used coloured felt symbols and shapes to represent various aspects of experiences of and feelings towards dementia. The shape of a hand, for example, was cut out of pink felt, to reflect the value and importance of touch and gesture.
One couple chose a chain of roses to reflect their journey through dementia, with periods of angst and disturbance interspersed with periods of tranquillity and calm. Later, these shapes were brought together in a wall hanging, with several threads representing different life stories and intertwining experiences.
Virtual Reality and Creativity
Artist, Kim Leigh Pontin, explored Virtual Reality (VR) with a gentleman with dementia, David, and his wife and carer, Rachel along with neuroscientist, Francesca Cacucci. Using VR, David to painted in 3D, using prompts such as a favourite song to inspire his mark-making. The results were fascinating, from both an artistic and scientific perspective.
Reflecting on his intricate design, reminiscent of some sort of intricate oriental lettering glowing before him in virtual space, David remarked,
“I wasn’t thinking, I was just creating… it wasn’t me making it beautiful, it just happened.”
Scientists specialising in biochemical and molecular neuroscience, clinical and social research, shared the latest cutting edge research in relation to dementia, and engaged in discussions, with people with various forms of dementia and their carers.
There was an overriding consensus that there is a major lack of public awareness of the many different types of dementia, and the range of ways people can be affected.
Dementia Isn’t Just About Memory
Commonly considered to be purely a disease affecting memory, many people were surprised to hear of types of dementia, such as posterior cortical atrophy, which primarily affects vision. The brain degeneration that can affect memory in the most common types of dementia can also affect other areas of the brain, and can affect a person’s spatial awareness, language and ability to control their behaviour.
Dementia Friendly Design of Spaces
Emma Harding and Dilek Ocal shared how they are working on ways both public and private spaces can be better designed to support people with dementia. Different coloured walls and interior features can help people with dementia find their way around more easily.
Another exciting project is looking at ways in which the different coping techniques that people with dementia and their carers use to manage their symptoms could be shared amongst others.
Prevention and Treatment of Dementia
There was encouraging news from scientists working on discovering new ways to prevent and treat dementia.
Chris Lovejoy described his PhD project in which he is using stem cells to grow new neurons, which he can then use to study the changes that occur in familial Alzheimer’s disease.
Francesca Cacucci told of an exciting new way to test potential drugs by examining the effects of these compounds on hippocampal place cells, the brain cells responsible for spatial navigation.
Magdalena Sastre shared her work on the role of inflammation in Alzheimer’s disease, whilst neurologist Paresh Malhotra encouraged everyone with his anticipation of new and effective treatments for dementias within the next ten years or so.
Living in a society in which we are all likely to be affected by dementia, people attending the Beyond Memory workshop talked honestly and openly about a disease that is so often brushed under the carpet.
At the conclusion event, Laura Marsh, from the Department of Psychological Medicine at King’s College London, added,
“It was a privilege to hear people talk about their experiences so openly, and exciting to hear about the new approaches and developments in the field.
Over the course of the afternoon, it was increasingly apparent that there is immense hope to be offered through the exciting work of so many, whether focusing on improving quality of life for those with dementia, or looking at preventing, slowing and treating neurodegenerative disease [dementia].
The role of creativity in exploring and communicating experience was also highlighted.
It was a pleasure to be part of such a stimulating event, and I am very much looking forward to seeing the finished artworks displayed in the exhibition later this year.”
During Bromley Dementia Awareness Week 2017, we are pleased to be offering a free raffle for one lucky person to win an Afternoon Tea Hamper. The Hamper includes food and drink for an Afternoon Tea, kindly donated by Coop and MindCare Dementia Support (part of Bromley & Lewisham Mind).
The Afternoon Tea Hamper winner will also receive a voucher for a free will courtesy of CWJ Solicitors in Orpington and a voucher for a 6 week course of golf lessons at MyTime Active in Bromley.
You can claim your free raffle tickets from dementia information stalls in Tesco Orpington on Tuesday 16th May and from our Dementia Awareness Week stall at Bromley High Street Market stalls on Friday 19th May.
The Odeon cinema in Orpington will be hosting one of the first dementia friendly film screenings to be held in the country in Odeon Cinemas as part of Dementia Awareness Week 2017.
Odeon in Orpington will be running a special screening especially for people with dementia and their carers, showing the 2008 hit film, Mamma Mia, at 11.30am on Tuesday 16th May. Sponsored by Orpington 1st, there will be free tea, coffee and biscuits before the screening, with tickets available on the day at a reduced price of £3 and carers go free.
To make the film screening dementia friendly, the lights will be kept on at a low level during the film and the sound will be lower than usual. There will be no trailers or adverts before the film. There will be a 15 minute interval and allowance for more movement and noise than usual during the film.
This is a great opportunity for people with dementia and their carers to spend some time together and create new memories together.
Be sure to also pop along to Tesco Orpington on the same day, to find out about local dementia support services.
During Dementia Awareness Week 2017, MindCare Dementia Support in Bromley will be holding Open Days at its centres in Beckenham and St. Paul’s Cray.
MindCare has been providing specialist dementia support in Bromley for over 25 years, helping people live well with dementia in MindCare centres and in the home. You can find out more about MindCare in the short animation below:
Members of the public can visit the MindCare Dementia Support Centres to find out more about what they do: