Lancaster project helps those affected by dementia

editorial image

Thousands of people with dementia, their families, friends and carers nationwide are benefiting from a pioneering project run from The Dukes.

A Life More Ordinary was launched in Lancaster in 2015 following the success of a similar Dukes and Age UK Lancashire pilot project.

The Dukes inclusive film and theatre officer, Gil Graystone (right) with a member of Booths staff during a recent bag pack.

The Dukes inclusive film and theatre officer, Gil Graystone (right) with a member of Booths staff during a recent bag pack.

It aims to improve the lives of people with dementia by providing fun activities and film screenings in an adapted environment not only at The Dukes but also venues across the country.

In Lancaster alone, there were 1,823 people with dementia in 2010, predicted to rise by 42 per cent by 2025.

An Age UK Lancashire project revealed that older people with dementia and their relations found it almost impossible to participate in activities enjoyed by the general public so felt isolated and helpless though most still wanted to enjoy ordinary activities in ordinary places.

And that’s where The Dukes stepped in. Now venues in Chorley, Liverpool, Birkenhead and Shropshire have also been inspired to run A Life More Ordinary events with almost 2,000 people involved.

During the coming year, ten more venues are due to come on board especially in areas where arts provision for people with dementia is low and where there’s a high percentage of older residents.

Most venues begin by hosting film screenings like the ones first launched at The Dukes and which will include High Society on February 27 and Oklahoma on April 10.

They take place in an ‘ordinary’ rather than care setting and can be shared with partners, friends and relatives.

The films are chosen specially to appeal to people who enjoy classic musical films and are open to everyone. The only difference is that there’s an interval during the film, lighting is slightly adjusted and there’s no problem if people need to move around during the screening. Toilets are clearly signed and there’s people on hand, many of them Dementia Friends, trained to help.

“It’s like an extension of your own home,” said one carer. “The staff are really friendly and if there’s a problem, you know they’ll understand.”

A Life More Ordinary provides storytelling sessions at The Dukes starting on January 16, and dance sessions beginning on January 30.

There’s also plans for a Memory Loss Theatre Group in 2018 where artists explore the lives of people with dementia.

There’s a chance to discover about different aspects of dementia at a lecture at The Dukes beginning on February 2 with The Science Behind The Headlines by Dr Penny Foulds, Defying Dementia Campaign founder and Honorary Researcher at Lancaster University.

The Dukes Inclusive Film and Theatre Officer, Gil Graystone has set up a Steering Group to push the project ahead.

The scheme will run for three years thanks to more than £200,000 of funding from the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation, The Rayne Foundation, Film Hub North West Central, The Dowager Countess Eleanor Peel Trust and The Elspeth J Thompson Charitable Trust.