Channel 4 documentary highlights change in culture in dementia care

Episode one of TV series shows how embracing the fact that people with dementia often live in the past can improve their wellbeing

Photo: British Royal Legion

Channel 4 explores an innovative approach to working with people with dementia this week in the first episode of three-part documentary Dementiaville.

Episode one features Poppy Lodge, a specially built dementia care unit within Galanos House care home in the Midlands, run by the Royal British Legion.

Butterfly Household Model

The unit uses the Butterfly Household Model of Care pioneered by the organisation Dementia Care Matters, which is used in over 100 care homes in the UK and aims to change the culture of dementia care. Instead of correcting residents when they are living in their own realities of the past, staff embrace their memories and work alongside residents to bring them to life. The model has proven benefits of reducing anxiety and increasing wellbeing.

There are 30 residents at Poppy Lodge and activities co-ordinator Craig Edser says: “Each time I come into work, I have absolutely no idea what I’m going to find…my job is to delve into the past lives of 30 very different human beings.”

Entering reality

One resident, 91-year-old Les Hadley (pictured above), reverts back to his days working with his dad in the Riley car factory in 1937. Hadley has vascular dementia and the memories of his dad and the Coventry car factory are constant. The staff go to great lengths to enter into “his reality” and in the film Hadley is happily surprised when he is taken for a chauffeur-driven ride in an original Riley.

David Sheard, chief executive and founder of Dementia Care Matters, worked as a series consultant on Dementiaville. The other two episodes explore Sheard’s work with families and the impact of dementia on marriage. In 2009, Sheard worked as a consultant to the BBC for its programme Can Gerry Robinson Fix Dementia Care Homes?

Dementiaville starts on Channel 4 at 9pm on Thursday 4 June. Do let us know what you think of the series by tweeting us @communitycare.

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