Creative Approaches in Dementia Care

May 26, 2011

Editors: Hilary Lee and Trevor Adams

Edition: First

Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan

Pages: 280

Price: £18.99

ISBN 9780230231658

The title alone is enough to make you want to pick this book up for a browse. It suggests so much more potential to give hope for future care, and to break the mould of past care models, than a "Workbook" or an "Excellence in care" or "A sociology of".

Indeed, an existing review cited by the publishers describes the authors as pioneers. So this is not a book about how to manage sundowning, wandering, aggression or aggressive language and other behavioural difficulties. It is not problem centred. Instead, it focuses on aspects of human life that are the very reasons life is so precious, but are so often taken for granted when we are independent and healthy. Laughter, movement (such as dance), music, photography, use of narrative, enjoying time just "being" with another person: these can so easily go missing in the chaos of the daily struggle to survive that carers experience in carrying out challenging routine dementia care.

With Australian and UK experts as editors, the tone of this explicitly Rogerian, person-centred and inspirational book instantly has global appeal. Authors draw on literature from many English-speaking countries around the world. What strikes me is that beneath the practical suggestions for activities - some well known already, but with many new ideas - lies a philosophy of healing and love, compassion and care.

So you can read the book on two levels. First, as an aid to activity ideas with an evidence base for why these will work; and second, and this is the more significant contribution of the book to dementia care, as a revolution in mindset about how we need to change our view about minimising the impact of a disease process that affects so many. This is not a problem like obesity that requires us merely to correct behaviour; this is a long-term palliative situation where working to allow people to live life to its fullest is vital, for dementia will ultimately affect most of us, be it as relative, formal carer or patient.

The groundbreaking and visionary contribution this book makes is beyond its consideration of living what life is left to the full for the person with dementia and close associates. What you gain from reading the book is the firm belief that dementia diagnosis does not have to be only a downward spiral of decay: even when one is aphasic, for example, taking photographs can be a way of expression. This book takes the idea of using occupational activities such as dusting or planting into an entirely new dimension, where the only limitations are our ability to dream and purchase expert support periodically. The concept of respite could be enhanced by making opportunities for sharing creative activities when it is not simply rest for the carer that is needed.

But to call this book simply groundbreaking would belittle it. This is a book to break down prison walls. Being a chronically addicted book collector for several decades, I have many books that I value, but this book is in my top 10 from the past 40 years.

Who is it for? This will be a treasured possession and well-thumbed library title for formal carers in all Western countries right across the multidisciplinary team, and it will be a valuable asset for informal carers too. It has the potential to spark off new work outside the Western world. I would make this an essential purchase for first-year students right across nursing, occupational therapy, physiotherapy, social work and psychology, but this is not an exclusive list. Every nursing and residential home should find ways to take a day away to discuss the implications and actions resulting from the text. Dementia training and education programmes from one-day events to master's level should have this at the core of their philosophical and practical approaches.

Presentation: Twelve chapters with more than a dozen experts in as many areas of creative work. The chapters are short enough to be read in an hour and each is well referenced by up-to-date, international-quality, relevant and widely varied sources.

Would you recommend it? It is hard to find a superlative to describe how heartily and sincerely I wish to recommend this book. It is great value for money, a pleasure to read and will be one of those books you will want to treasure for the rest of your career and probably beyond.

Recommended

Fundamental Aspects of Infection Prevention and Control

Editor: Vinice Thomas

Edition: First

Publisher: Quay Books

Pages: 250

Price: £24.99

ISBN 9781856424158

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