Fri 1 Dec 17
Not many people look forward to becoming elderly. Even less are excited by the prospect of going into a care home. Ageing is inevitable, but the miserable experiences we often hear of don’t have to be.
Our School of Health and Social Care puts patients at the centre of everything they do and strives to challenge society’s low expectations of what acceptable care of the elderly looks like.
This week, the School welcomed Az2B Theatre Company to our Lakeside Theatre to perform two immersive plays exploring dementia and how relationships and care impact individual experiences, Grandma Remember Me? and What Do You See?.
The cast of three used an array of life-like puppets to draw the audiences out of their comfort zones, and shared experiences of care which were rooted in real-life stories.
The thought-provoking plays, at times uncomfortable, left the audience questioning ‘acceptable’ practise.
The revealing Q&A saw audience members sharing how they felt the scenarios (both good and bad) were familiar and realistic to those they had witnessed in practice. One audience member commented:
“I now have a far greater understanding of the condition, the reality the shows brought was far beyond what I have learnt in the classroom and my reading. I feel the shows, particularly the first, was invaluable to my learning - I shall certainly be taking this understanding into my future professional practice.”
“Dementia is a placement area I've been feeling a little apprehensive about, as it's not an illness that I’ve worked with previously. However, I think I will now be able to feel more confident if I am given a placement in this area, and I feel more able to not only work with the patients, but also it has opened my eyes to the support that is out there, not only for the patient but also for those around them.”
The cast from Az2B Theatre Company were keen that their work should raise society’s expectations of what care should look like, and in the latter part of What Do You See?, fostered an environment of dignity and respect for both residents and staff at the care home. They modelled interactive, engaging person-centred care ideas such as family activity packs, family kitchen spaces and even ‘Death Cafes’.
Whilst recognising that even their vision of an improved care home isn’t perfect, the cast hope that their performance will help everyone in care to learn from past mistakes, break down the taboos around death, and be advocates for Advanced Care Planning.