Current Theatre Production: Voices from the Shadows
Voices from the Shadows is a new professional theatre production devised by Pam Schweitzer featuring the experience of people with dementia and their carers. Their words are delivered by two older professional actors, Pamela Lyne and Godfrey Jackman, in highly charged 4-minute extracts from their letters, writings and recordings, thus ensuring that their voices are clearly heard in the conference context. The extracts demonstrate anger and sadness, but are also full of humour and compassion. Contact Pam Schweitzer for details: firstname.lastname@example.org
This production was developed for the Alzheimers Society and is now available from the society in DVD form as an educational pack for use in training events and conferences concerning dementia, complete with ideas for stimulating discussion amongst family and professional carers. Contact the Alzheimers Society for more information: www.alzheimers.org.uk
Remembering Yesterday, Caring Today
A short introduction
In 1997, with support from the UK Department of Health and the European Commission, Pam Schweitzer set up an international project for the European Reminiscence Network entitled 'Remembering Yesterday, Caring Today'. It brought together practitioners in 16 European cities to pilot the original concept, which was then thoroughly evaluated and the results shared at conferences in Vienna and Stockholm.
The 'RYCT Project', as it has come to be known, is designed to support families coping with dementia. The project involves groups of people with dementia and their family carers meeting over a number of weeks (from 12 – 18 weeks) to revisit their shared past experience and exploring it in a variety of creative ways including music, drama, art, objects, multi-sensory stimulus and non-verbal communication. The project continues to help families across Europe to develop a sense of their shared history and a greater capacity to cope with stresses in their present lives. The methods pioneered in 1998 have since continued to evolve and develop, providing the following benefits:
An inspiration to family members caring for people with dementia
Empowerment for the people with dementia whose long-term memories have proved more resilient than their relatives dared to believe
Good new working methods for hard-pressed practitioners
The manual resulting from the European project has been published in English under the title 'Reminiscing with People with Dementia' (see publications page). It is also available in German, Danish, Italian, French, Spanish, Catalan, Swedish and Romanian translations.
Disseminating the “Remembering Yesterday Caring Today” project
Through countless workshops and conferences worldwide where Pam has spoken of this work, the ideals of the project have been passed on to opinion formers and academics as well as to ‘coal-face’ workers. The conferences include Alzheimers Disease International Conferences in India, South Africa and Barcelona and Alzheimer Europe Conferences in Bucharest, Prague, London, Athens and conferences on Ageing and on the Arts in New York, Vancouver, Nashville, Columbus, Berlin, Munich, Copenhagen, Dublin and many other cities. [Image: 'RYCT' group]
Introducing the dementia project in India
In 2010, the ERN director, Pam Schweitzer, undertook the first reminiscence training visit to India. Working in association with the Alzheimers Society of India (ARDSI) Pam gave training sessions, workshops, lectures and advice sessions in Delhi, Kolkata, Hyderabad and Bangalore.
The visit was to support local initiatives and advise on incorporating reminiscence into group activities in day centres and one-to-one work in the home environment. Of particular interest to participating groups was the idea of linking with the ERN projects, so some will work in parallel with our RTRT project and some will help families to develop memory boxes or life story books. When we develop our RTRT website (which will be linked to this site) we hope to feature some of the work emerging from the Indian groups.
ERN in India photo gallery - click for larger images
Medical Research Council and National Institute of Health Research funding for RYCT:
From 2004-6, the development of a trial platform involving researchers at Bangor, Bradford and University College London was funded by the Medical Research Council. The trial platform was to prepare the ground for a definitive evaluation of RYCT.
The results were sufficiently promising for the National Institute of Health Research to fund our team under their Health Technology Assessment programme to conduct a full three-year trial, involving over 500 families living with dementia. This research project is operating in 8 centres across England and Wales and is supported by research teams at 5 universities: Bangor, UCL, Hull, Manchester and Bradford. It takes the “Remembering Yesterday, Caring Today” (RYCT) programme as its starting point and looks at the effectiveness and cost effectiveness of the RYCT programme for 26 groups of 10 families. A control group of matching size is also involved in the research for this project. This is the biggest single study of reminiscence undertaken to date. The research is still on-going and the results will be available in the last quarter of 2011.
As Consultant to both research projects, Pam has been responsible for all the training elements of the project and (jointly with Errollyn Bruce) for the development of the RYCT which is now published by Jessica Kingsley Publishers (see below).