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Creativity and the dementia friendly church – Livability explores approaches to support people living with dementia

The role of using creative approaches in developing dementia friendly churches was the subject of an event held yesterday by Livability.

The event drew together church leaders, community workers and carers to discuss the vital role that churches can play in supporting people living with dementia.

“We all need to find ways of creating more inclusive communities for those living with dementia,” says Charlotte Overton-Hart – a Livability Associate involved in organising the day.

“With dementia ever present in the news, and with the devastating impact it can have on so many people’s lives and families, it’s easy to adopt a very disabling view of the condition. But we want to challenge that mind-set and say that there is much that can be done to bring hope, community and full participation for people living with dementia. Churches – along with other community partners – are well placed to bring a hopeful and important response in this area,” says Charlotte.

The training day – held at Livability’s national office in North Greenwich – brought together a range of church and community leaders, and people with lived experience – to discuss creative and practical approaches to making churches more dementia friendly. From multi-sensory approaches such as community gardening, acting and art, bring and share lunches or friendship walks, event attendees shared information about what has worked in their context.

Dr Jennifer Bute gives her keynote on Dementia Friendly Church – run by Livability

Dr Jennifer Bute gives her keynote on Dementia Friendly Church – run by Livability

Dr Jennifer Bute – a retired GP who is living with dementia – was one of the keynote speakers on the day. Jennifer sees dementia as a ‘glorious opportunity’ to offer support and a place of welcome to people that may need a place to participate when other avenues may seem more closed.

Ideas shared included:

  • Creating a network of churches to collaborate together and share creative ideas
  • Using themed events to engage in multi- sensory approaches that can include everyone
  • Promoting wellbeing and connection through storytelling and testimony
  • Using ‘Godly Play’ methods to engage someone’s spirituality
  • Relationship – focused approaches through active befriending

Earlier this year, Livability launched The Dementia Friendly Churches guide in collaboration with Alzheimers Society and are currently developing plans to provide more avenues for churches to mobilise and support people in their communities that are facing dementia.

Corin Pilling, Assistant Director for Community Engagement at Livability said:

“Livability is a charity that is focused on tackling barriers that can cause people to feel socially isolated and working for inclusion in all we do. We are passionate about changing the narrative around dementia, to one that is hope-filled, focused on recognising the unique importance of each person. Everyone has something to offer. Churches can play a powerful role in walking alongside someone in their journey with dementia and enabling people to make a valuable and life affirming contribution.”

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