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Visiting the memory café and other dementia care activities

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’I found the eye catching positive imagery on the front cover to be inviting, and the book itself is easy to read and to dip in and out of’

Title: Visiting the memory café and other dementia care activities

Authors: Caroline Baker and Jason Corrigan-Charlesworth

Publisher: Jessica Kingsley

Reviewer: Liz Charalambous, PhD student and Staff Nurse, University of Nottingham

What was it like?

The book covers a range of activities such as reminiscence using digital technology; Namaste care; doll therapy; memory cafes; exercise; guided visualisation; creativity; and the environment. All of which are underpinned by seven domains of wellbeing, developed by Al Power in 2014 as a seemingly positive alternative to Kitwood’s malignant social psychology. Most chapters refer to the seven domains to explain each subject area, and offer practical tips to facilitate smooth implementation. There are useful references to follow up on for further reading.

What were the highlights?

The importance of validating the needs of people living with dementia, and the philosophy of an individual approach underpins the activities. It steps outside the boundaries of simply treating a dementia diagnosis, instead striving towards a holistic, multi-sensory approach to caring, and a recognition of the social context and physical environment.

Strengths & weakness:

I found the eye catching positive imagery on the front cover to be inviting, and the book itself is easy to read and to dip in and out of, however some of the data lacked clarity. All the pictures are black and white with some of them being quite small to understand at first glance what they represent. They are nevertheless interesting and cover a range of topics such as photographs of the environment, and examples of activities. The content of the book lends itself to having more pictures to illustrate the projects, especially in colour.

Despite mention of people living with dementia, such as Kate Swaffer, all experiences of the projects were written in the third person and from the perspective of professionals. I was left wondering if a chapter written by people living with dementia would have added extra value to the overall content of the book.

Who should read it?

Despite attempts to systematise and evaluate, the projects themselves do not appear to have a robust methodology. However, this is not a serious concern as many popular ideas, which are deemed to be valuable, such as Feil’s validation therapy, are themselves considered to be insufficiently robust to be considered as evidence yet are recognised as valuable across the entire corpus of dementia care. I value the ”gut instinct” approach and the authors’ years of experience which is crucial to improve our approaches to, and understanding of, dementia care. Their refreshingly honest approach demonstrates a courage to admit their previous failings from which they have learnt and built good practice, and as such the book has an authentic feel.

visiting the memory cafe

visiting the memory cafe



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