The very beginning seeds for this toolkit came when nursing people who had no recognizable verbal or sign language, and whose levels of frustrations were extremely high. Noting the factors that helped people feel calmer or more connected has fed into all our current work. Puppetry, singing, visual arts, compassion and creative connections – you’ll find all these in the Toolkit!
At first these factors seemed as diverse and individual as the people involved: Stewart, who had been cared for all his life, needed to be able to give something to others. Christopher, who had no interests, discovered he could breathe life into a spoon dancing on the end of his fingertips. Eva who had become withdrawn became alert to images containing reds and golds… and gradually a set of principles began to emerge that can be linked to well-established humanist theories (Maslow 1943; Rogers 2003; Kitwood 1997; Brooker 2006 )
Another beginning point was being a person centred counsellor and seeing how much people benefited from unconditional love and respect (even when in their deepest crisis, or messiest mess and confusion), – and watching transformation happen as people found new ways to express themselves.
In our story of many beginnings we also refer to the deep brown eyes of Anthony. He could not repeat his name, could not recall where he was or whether he had just eaten. But Anthony knew his puppet. He had invested something of himself in the making of his puppet and he showed an attachment to it… an appreciation of it. You’ll understand this process more with the DVD and Toolkit book.
And we think of Bob and Helen and Bert and so many other people with dementia, each with their struggles and agitations, who took great pride in sandpapering their wooden puppets. They built representations of themselves bit by bit, week after week, little knowing how we would witness the impact of these puppets years later, when we met their families.
Our Toolkit shows you our process for creating environments that promote creativity because our brains are creative organs. Different forms of dementia affect different parts of the brain, but we know from our own work and from academic research e.g. Miller (2004) that as people’s brains change, our ability to create remains. This, along with simple and effective principles, is how we connect and communicate.
We create worlds between worlds through creativity. We show you how to build in themes and music and visual arts; how to begin to breathe life into things around you; ways to get new perspectives and notice things you’ve never noticed before. The toolkit shows you how to create a puppet that has significance and how to connect in the present moment with your loved one or person you care for.
And in this list of beginnings our newest beginning is with you. The story of how you came to connect with our Toolkit.
We would love to hear from you…