Page 1

THE FA M I LY A RT S RECIPE BOOK A recipe book of creative ideas to inspire

a verd de gris production


When I was in my twenties, my Nanna was into something that family members could use at diagnosed as having Alzheimer's Disease. I didn't home. really know what Alzheimer's was, or any other type of dementia for that matter, but I did know Dementia is a condition that affects the whole that I loved my Nanna and I wanted to help her. family. Many people experience great difficulties in trying to come to terms with an illness whose I kept on visiting; sitting listening to her and rapidly changing symptoms can result in holding her hand, but as her illness became more profound emotional responses like sadness, severe I found that I struggled to communicate confusion, anxiety and anger. with her and felt a gulf opening up between us. I wished that I could have found a way to reach But amongst the confusion and grief there is her, to keep in touch with my Nanna's inner self, laughter and humour. I have heard some very her 'emotional self', which I sort of knew was still wise and moving words from those who care for there when I heard her sing the songs she must their loved ones with dementia. There is a have sung as a little girl. strength and love for husbands and wives, fathers and mothers, and an overwhelming I wish now that there had been someone to determination to ‘do the right thing’. say to me, ‘Sharon, try this, it might work: read a poem, paint a picture, sing a song.’ These things In making this book, we want to encourage you could have helped me during my time with my to try out some things that may help to take you Nanna. And I think they could also have helped and your loved one somewhere else for a little her, and those visits from me could have been while - perhaps a calmer and more peaceful less distressing, perhaps they might even have place. been uplifting, and we could have shared something positive instead of the awful empty, Sharon & Jeff verd de gris helpless feeling I was left with. In June 2003 I began visiting and working with the staff at Kershaw Grange Day Unit in Luddendenfoot, Halifax to gain a greater understanding of Alzheimer's dementia and to use my skills as an artist and creative reminiscence worker to find ways of alleviating some of the symptoms of the disease.

At the end of the project my partner Jeff and I created a ‘reminiscence cabinet’ filled with objects and recorded sound, which we hoped would serve as a resource for the staff and people who attend Kershaw Grange, something they could use, and perhaps a way of working (using art materials and simple exercises) that could be easily implemented as part of day-today care at the Unit.

In September ‘07 I began a new project working with the Family Carers Group at Kershaw. I wanted to see if there was any way of translating some of my approaches at Kershaw 2


















The activities and ways of working in this book have been designed for you to use whatever the stage of dementia. The outcomes will vary greatly, not just because of the dementia, but also depending on the individual person and his or her mood on the day. Please remember to gently guide and encourage your loved one - they will take the activity, be it poem or painting, drawing or dance, wherever they choose and there will be lots of surprises for both of you.

arts activities

I use paint a lot in my work, especially when working with people with dementia. This is not to make complex landscapes or portraits, but just for the delight in making marks with paint, playing with colour and creating simple patterns. I have found that very simple exercises and gentle encouragement can produce very satisfying and enjoyable results.

Try and remember that there is no right or wrong. Think of the process more as a voyage of discovery and don’t overburden the exercise with what the final outcome should be. Go with the flow, enjoy the journey and see where it takes you!

I have found that it is important not to ‘over explain’. Just get everything ready and then invite the person to come and join you. Answer any questions very simply: “We are going to do some painting now”, or “Come and see”. A natural curiosity and the desire to create should help you get started and remember, there is something incredibly therapeutic about putting paint onto paper - that’s why I use paint and not felt tips.

We have designed these exercises for you to do together, to share. If something doesn’t work the first or second time keep trying, it will.

There are some things you should bear in mind when trying some of these activities for the When I first started working with people with first time, for instance: dementia I used to get very nervous about Because of the bright colours and inviting whether or not what I was doing would work, or whether anyone would want to do it. Your texture of paint and crayons, there is always the husband or wife, father or mother, (or other loved possibility a person might try and taste the art family member) might seem a bit wary or materials. This often depends on the stage of resistant at first. You may feel that their mood dementia, but don’t worry or overreact, just gently could make things difficult; they may be upset, bring them back to the exercise saying: “that’s cross, depressed or apathetic. This has right, the paint goes here on the paper.” happened to me before, but the more time I Sometimes you will need to take a greater spend working in this way, the more I realise that this process does really work. Wonderful things lead, helping to guide frail hands with the brush or do happen with lots of different types of people at crayon. Working together like this can be very rewarding for you both. different stages of dementia.



Please persevere!



some basic materials

Most towns have an arts and crafts shop. You will be able to get all the materials I talk about in this book (and more!) from one of these. You can also pick up art materials quite cheaply in more general stores like:

LIDL and ALDI often sell good quality art materials at great prices. Their paints are often vibrant and they have packs of mixed brushes. THE WORKS - if there is one on a high street near you, they often have art materials that are really good value. Here are some basic materials that come up in most of the activities in this book.

P a p e r - I usually use wallpaper lining paper - this is great! It’s not expensive and you can cut it to whatever size you need. Alternatively you could buy a pad of paper. This doesn’t need to be expensive artists paper. The names you are most likely to see are, cartridge paper, watercolour paper, artists sketch pads - any of these will do, just as long as the paper is not too thin. P a i n t b r u s h e s - a pack of various sizes.

A c r y l i c o r p o s t e r p a i n t s (a selection of colours, but definitely include red, blue, yellow, white and black). I tend to use acrylic paints as there is a very silky texture to them and it’s very enjoyable moving the paint around the paper. C h u n k y w a x c r a y o n s (bold colours)

P a i n t p a l l e t (I use plates; plastic, paper or pottery - white unpatterned are best as they don’t detract from the colours) P o t t o c l e a n b r u s h e s (something like a jam jar will do) A p r o n s - or an old shirt to protect clothes. S m a l l p a i n t ro l l e rs B o x o f w a t e r c o l o u r p a i n t s - water colours are great if you are out and about or if your relative is in a residential care home. They are very self-contained - just lift the lid and the paint and brushes are there. All you need is a pot or even a bottle of water to wash the brushes.


just patterns Materials

Paper - you can cut down pieces of lining paper, or use a piece from a pad Paint pallet - you can use a plastic, paper or ceramic plate Acrylic or poster paint Paint Brushes Pot of water - to clean the brushes Method 1. Cover the table with paper (preferably lining paper but newspaper will do - I say this because sometimes the words and images on the newspaper can be distracting). 2. Put a selection of different paint colours on the plate or pallet (leave space between each colour). 3. Put a piece of paper down for each of you. 4. You choose a colour and start. Make lines across the page, or dots, squiggles, dashes with encouragement they will follow, with their own ideas. Remember there is no right way and just see it where it goes. You may both be amazed!

Tip: use the size of paint brush dependant on your size of paper e.g. if your paper is postcard size use a fine brush. Don’t forget to encourage washing the brush each time you change the colour.

just patterns 2 working together

Exactly the same as above but this time you work together on the same piece, taking it in turns to make a mark.

The idea for this came from a lovely man I worked with in a care home. I was not painting during this exercise, just guiding him, and he wanted me to be part of his creation. The resulting painting was very much led by him, even down to the colours he chose for us both to use: random at first, then always green for me and red for him. I would start with a mark or series of marks and he would say “My turn” and then “Now you”. We did three pieces this way and then he said “... that’s it, what a team, hey?” Very enjoyable for us both.



stencilling Materials

Paper - you can cut down pieces of lining paper, or use a piece from a pad Stencils - have a look in an arts and crafts shop for different designs e.g. leaves, stars, fish, animals, angels Paint pallet - make sure its flat so that you can use the roller Acrylic or poster paint Small foam roller - you can pick one up at a local arts and crafts shop Masking tape or sellotape - to keep the stencil in place


1. Cover the table with paper (preferably lining paper but newspaper will do - I say this because sometimes the words and images on the newspaper can be distracting). 2. Choose a colour together and put some paint on the pallet. 3. Stick the stencil in place on the paper. 4. Roll the roller through the paint, making sure there is a good coverage on the roller. 5. Roll the roller over the stencil and paper.

This is a very simple, satisfying activity. Remember that you may have to guide their hand with the roller to show how the roller works. But it is a very gentle rhythmical motion and the lifting off of the stencil at the end of the activity is really satisfying. Keep going with it and try different colours.

I once tried this exercise with a woman who was often depressed and sad and had very little language left. She often just sat back and observed others participating in activities. However, during our time together she was very decisive with her choices; the colour of paper and paint, the design of each stencil.

I showed her how to use the roller and put the paint on for her and then placed the roller by her hand. She picked it up and started to cover the paper with paint, very obviously taking pleasure in the sensation and how the paint looked on the paper. After we had finished I thanked her. She put her hand on my arm and said “Thank you, I’ve had a lovely time�. The whole atmosphere was fun and alive and once the reticence had lifted the energy in the room was tangible.


wet on wet painting Materials

Paper - Cut down pieces of paper (approx. 10” x 12”) soak them in cold water for about an hour 3 x Jam Jars Watered-down paint - use blue, red and yellow - about 1/3 paint 2/3 water 3 x Paint Brushes A cloth - to wipe the excess water off Method 1. Cover the table with paper (preferably lining paper but newspaper will do - I say this because sometimes the words and images on the newspaper can be distracting). 2. Water down the paint in the jam jars (you only need a small amount of paint as it goes a long way). 3. Take wet paper and lay it on the table. Wipe the extra water off the paper with a cloth. 4. Just start to paint. Wet-on-wet painting is a very calming way to paint. Just experiment make swirls, rainbows, colour moving into colour. The effect is beautiful. I often have soft gentle music playing when I do this or sing or hum very softly.

I have used this with people who have been very distressed and I’ve been amazed at the way a mood can change and what it opens up. After one similar session at Kershaw beautiful conversations followed and the person and I both left the morning with an overwhelming feeling of calm and for her, an unusual sense of being at one with the world.





colour emotion Materials

Paper - cut down pieces of lining paper, or a piece from a pad (postcard size) Paint pallet - you can use a plastic, paper or ceramic plate Acrylic or poster paint - a selection of colours including black and white Paint Brushes Pot of water - to clean the brushes A list of emotions - e.g happiness, sadness, love, anger, fear, contentment, joy Method Set up as you would for an exercise like ‘Just Patterns’.

What you are going to do here is more painting and mark-making, but the idea is to try and represent an emotion with a colour. Some people might choose to represent ‘happiness’ with pink. Another person might choose orange for the same emotion. Sadness for some is white, for others it is blue. If you find it hard to explain, just simply say: ‘which one of these colours makes you feel happy?’ You will be amazed at the different choices you both make.

As with all these recipes, try and be responsive and go with the flow. Some people choose only one colour to fill the paper completely. Others make lines or marks, complex patterns, or just keep on adding more and more colour.

I would also recommend you wait to do this when you are feeling a little more confident working with paint. But do persevere with this exercise - I have used it so many times, in lots of different situations and what it does is give people a very clear way to express themselves. You will find that even people who have very little language left are very clear and definite in their decision-making.

I once spent a wonderful afternoon chatting, talking and laughing with a woman as we did this activity together. I had never heard her laugh before as she was usually so agitated - it really was wonderful. When we’d finished I had warm soapy water to wash her hands, but she started to wash and dry mine, very gently singing to me and thanking me, telling me I was lovely; there were tears in her eyes and she said, “It’s all on the inside - just trying to get out.” LIFE NOW





crayon and ink wall-hanging Materials

Wallpaper lining paper - as large a piece as you can fit on your table Collected leaves Wax crayons 3 x Jam Jars Watered-down paint - use blue, red and yellow - about 1/3 paint 2/3 water 3 x Large Brushes Method This exercise is a bit like making a brass rubbing. 1. Lay the collected leaves on the table (autumn is a perfect time for this - have a lovely walk and collect the fallen leaves, ivy leaves are perfect and with us all year round). 2. Place the piece of paper over the leaves. 3. Now, using the flat edge of the crayons rather than the tip, move the crayons over the paper. Like with brass rubbings you will see the shape of the leaves appear. This is a really wonderful one to do together, seeing the leaves come through is lovely. 4. Paint over the paper. Make sure there is plenty of paint on the brushes. The colours may be kept separate or you may want to merge them. Moving the paint over the waxed crayons has a quite magical effect.

Try to stand back as much as you can and let your husband or wife, father or mother take the lead. You will have lots of ideas but resist putting them first - this is one of the biggest challenges of working together. In my experience, when given the right prompts, people at all stages of dementia, will express their own thoughts and ideas, and make their own decisions with crystal clarity.


a walk with a box of watercolours Materials

Paper - cut down pieces of lining paper, or a piece from a pad (postcard size) A box of watercolour paints Paint Brushes Pot of water - to clean the brushes Method This is a really lovely thing to do, for any of us! Especially on a beautiful summer’s day or an autumn evening. I hope it will also help you both to think about and perhaps focus on all of the five senses: listening to birdsong, smelling the flowers, finding some wild fruit to eat and share, or even taking off your shoes and feeling the cool grass under your feet.

Maybe you could go to the park, take a seat down by the canal, walk along the riverbank, or maybe even visit the seaside. And remember to take a box of paints with you: it is so easy to set up and get started - you just need a small bottle of water to wash the brush and a pad of paper.

If you can go out for a walk together that would be wonderful - observing the change in the seasons, commenting on seasonal flowers etc. But if your loved one can no longer go with you, try and bring some of the seasons back into the house; maybe collect some fallen leaves, pick or press some flowers, collect some shells or small stones from the beach or from the crags and use these things as a basis for some of the activities in this book.

“It was such a beautiful summer’s day, sitting in the garden at Kershaw. M and I with our big sheets of paper and paint, just talking at first and looking at all that surrounded us: the blue sky, the bees buzzing, the greeness of the trees and the hills, valleys and moors beyond. M started to talk about her childhood; a happy positive time living in Northumberland. She told me how beautiful it was, the hills and valleys, the moors and the horses next door - all the colours! Then she started to paint. You could feel her creative energy getting stronger and stronger, it almost takes her over!” (Extract from Sharon’s work journal)

Paintings inspired by memories of a place or aspects of nature. ARTS ACTIVITIES


Reminiscence is just remembering and sharing our memories. It is important for all of us to do this and mostly we enjoy reminiscing - it gives us a warm feeling, almost taking us back to that time we spent by the seaside and built that wonderful sand castle or the time we fed the ducks with our nanny and paddled in the cool river. What happens to people with dementia (particularly Alzheimer’s), is that these memories fade or get a little lost. In my work I try to help people find their memories again. If you ask most people about their own childhood, they will probably say “Ooh, it’s along time ago - I can’t remember.” But if you use objects, music, songs, poetry - even smells - they will start recalling games they played, songs they sang, people they knew, streets they lived in.

As part of my reminiscence work I set up lots of creative ‘activities’ and use lots of different objects, trying to theme them to see how effective they can be in relation to one another, e.g. toys and games (skipping ropes, spinning tops, pottery dolls etc.) help to explore aspects of childhood; artefacts from the sewing shops and spinning mills (spindles, bobbins, sewing boxes, pieces of fabric) help begin discussions about work and labour. I also try to use other sensory factors; such as recorded sound (work hooters / sirens, clocking off machines, steam trains, children singing old skipping songs) in combination with visual stimuli (old photographs, wash day journals, old packaging) and ‘smells’ (old wax furniture polish, lavender water, old colognes, bread yeast). The aim is to be able to build up ‘pictures of memory’, of places or events, that can serve as triggers for recollection and reminiscence.

Putting an object in someones hands, like a skipping rope or a cricket ball, prompts strong memories and associations. The weight of the ball or the feel of the leather may evoke memories not just of playing the game, but of friends played with, or summer evening walks after the game.

To compliment this book of recipes we have compiled a reminiscence box for you to use. You will be able to loan this box from Kershaw Grange Day Unit. It will contain the kinds of reminiscence objects I have mentioned above and will give tips on how to combine the different elements of song, poetry and cultural artefacts. I have heard some wonderful and moving stories during my work, I hope you too share some very precious times with the person you love who has dementia.



reminiscence poetry

For people whose memories are fading or their use of language is deteriorating, rhymes and poems offer a powerful form of communication. When I worked at Kershaw Grange I found that when we sang rhymes or recited childhood poetry together people were often able to join in, remembering some or indeed all of the words. This was wonderful for them, bringing a great sense of enjoyment and fun. Importantly, it gave people a feeling of togetherness, sharing memories and stories with others in the group.

Poems like, ‘The Town Child, The Country Child’ and ‘The Watchmaker’s Shop’ often lead to conversations and memories of what it was like to be a child growing up 50 - 70 years ago. Popular nursery rhymes like ‘Hot Cross Buns’, ‘Boys and Girls Come out to Play’ and ‘Monday’s Child’ also help to trigger long-term childhood memories.

Monday’s child is fair of face, Tuesday’s child is full of grace, Wednesday’s child is full of woe, Thursday’s child has far to go, Friday’s child is loving and giving, Saturday’s child works hard for a living, But the child that is born on the Sabbath day Is bonny, and blithe, and good, and gay.

Girls and boys come out to play, The moon doth shine as bright as day. Leave your supper and leave your sleep, And come with your playfellows into the street, Come with a whoop and come with a call, Come with a goodwill or come not at all. Up the ladder and down the wall, A halfpenny roll will serve us all. You find milk and I’ll find flour, And we’ll make a pudding in half an hour.

Hickety, pickety, My black hen, She lays eggs for gentlemen; Sometimes nine, And sometimes ten. Hickety, pickety, My black hen

I had a little nut-tree, nothing would it bear, But a silver nutmeg and a golden pear. The King of Spain’s daughter came to visit me, And all on account of my little nut-tree. I skipped over the water, I danced over the sea, But all the birds in the air couldn’t catch me.

Lilies are white, dilly dilly, Rosemary’s green; When you are king, dilly dilly, I will be queen. Roses are red, Lavenders blue; If you will have me, I will have you.

Diddle, diddle, dumpling, My son John Went to bed With his stockings on: One shoe off, And the other shoe on: Diddle, diddle, dumpling, My son John.


reminiscence poetry THE TOWN CHILD

I live in the town In a street; It is crowded with traffic And feet; There are buses and motors And trams; I wish there were meadows And lambs.

The houses all wait In a row, There is smoke everywhere That I go. I don’t like the noises I hear I wish there were woods Very near. There is only one thing That I love, And that is the sky Far above, There is plenty of room In the blue For castles of clouds And me, too! Irene Thompson


A street in our town Has a queer little shop With tumble-down walls And a thatch on the top; And all the wee windows With crookedy panes Are shining and winking With watches and chains.

(All sorts of sizes In silver and gold, And brass ones and tin ones And new ones and old; And clocks for the kitchen And clocks for the hall, High ones and low ones And wag-at-the-wall.) 18



My home is a house Near a wood (I’d live in a street If I could!) The lanes are so quiet, Oh, dear! I do wish that someone Lived near.

There is no one to play with At all, The trees are so high And so tall; And I should be lonely For hours, Were it not for the birds And the flowers.

I wish that I lived In a town To see all the trams Going down A twinkling street That is bright With wonderful colours, At night!

Irene Thompson

The watchmaker sits On a long-legged seat And bids you the time Of the day when you meet; And round and about him There’s tickety-tock From the tiniest watch To the grandfather clock.

I wonder he doesn’t Get tired of the chime And all the clocks ticking And telling the time; But there he goes winding Lest any should stop, This queer little man In the watchmaker’s shop.

reminiscence poetry FROM A RAILWAY CARRIAGE

Faster than fairies, faster than witches, Bridges and houses, hedges and ditches; And charging along like troops in a battle, All through the meadows the horses and cattle; All of the sights of the hill and the plain Fly as thick as driving rain; And ever again, in the wink of an eye, Painted stations whistle by.

Here is a child who clambers and scrambles, All by himself and gathering brambles; Here is a tramp who stands and gazes; And there is the green for stringing the daisies! Here is a cart run away in the road Lumping along with man and load; And here is a mill, and there is a river: Each a glimpse and gone forever!

Robert Louis Stevenson


Amy Elizabeth Ermyntrude Annie Went to the country to visit her Grannie. Learnt to churn butter and learnt to make cheese Learnt to milk cows and take honey from bees; Learnt to spice rose leaves and learnt to cure ham Learnt to make cider and black-currant jam. When she came home she could not settle down, Said there was nothing to do in the town. Nothing to do there and nothing to see: Life was all shopping and afternoon tea! Amy Elizabeth Ermyntrude Annie Ran away back to the country and Grannie!

Queenie Scott


using poetry and song USING POETRY ...

I have used poetry in all aspects of my work for as long as I can remember - as inspiration, as metaphor, as a starting point for workshops. So it seemed a very natural and obvious way to work whilst at Kershaw Grange. But I don’t think I realised just how effective a tool it would be in working with people with dementia.

As I said earlier, poetry and nursery rhymes are great for helping to trigger memories and stimulate conversation. Poems like ‘Daffodils’, ‘Tyger Tyger’ and ‘How do I love thee?’ - that people learnt at school many years ago - stay remarkably fresh, and people can recite them often word for word.

I sometimes use poetry as a starting point for us to write our own poems, sometimes looking at emotional issues like love, joy, grief and acceptance. The poem ‘Within the World there lies Joy and Grief’ was written by the group at one such session. Sometimes I read poem after poem to an individual person or a group. This has a very calming effect and is almost like singing lullabies. Here is a quote from my notes after time spent doing this with someone who had very little language. I think it really sums up the power of poetry:

”I worked one to one with J and for nearly an hour I just read poem after poem - it was truly wonderful! J watched me intently and listened, smiled, laughed - eyes filled with tears at the sadder ones, she would make comments about one being ‘lovely’ or ‘beautiful’. I went on to sing lullabies to her and she just kept looking into my eyes.

When we finished for lunch she said: “It’s been lovely” then long eye-contact, “I’m not unhappy” she said, and she just smiled and held my hand. It was so very moving…” (Extract from Sharon’s work journal)

I think for all people the sound of the human voice reading poetry - sad poems, funny poems, heartfelt poems - is a wonderfully engaging experience. I have found that people in all stages of dementia respond positively to it. Perhaps most importantly, in the later stages when there is a heightened sensitivity to one’s emotions, poetry has a power and immediacy few other forms of communication can equal.

I would suggest that initially you try particular poems and rhymes as part of reminiscence or as a calming effect. The more you get used to reading aloud and using poetry in this way you will start to feel more and more comfortable and will find your own poems to share.

I have listed some of the poetry books and anthologies that I love and use often at the back of this book on page 24.



If reading poetry isn’t something you would normally do - please try it. Poetry is for all of us and I cannot emphasize enough what a wonderful, effective artform it is. ‘WITHIN THE WORLD THERE LIES JOY AND GRIEF’

Within the world there lies joy and grief, Hearts filled with happiness - always happy Lifts with laughter - enjoy! Family - all made us happy - true to life - as I see it. People singing and dancing all makes us happy. There’s no stopping you - when you’re young. When you look around and see something that wasn’t there before, That makes you happy. And children dancing in the streets. I don’t want to talk about grief - I’ve had enough Look back on the good things in life. It’s something I think we’re all to expect, grief, to share, to get through. Here today - gone tomorrow You can somehow cope with it better as you get older You accept? Definitely But within the world there lies joy and grief for everybody to share USING SONG ... As I spend time working with people with dementia, I use song in an almost unthinking and natural way, a little like talking. I think it has the most profound effect when people are distressed or agitated; I will often sing or hum gentle songs, such as old folk songs, Irish ballads or lullabies and these have a very calming and soothing effect. If you keep reminding yourself to sing or hum (just quietly), it really does work, and it can help to calm you in what can be quite difficult situations.


movement matters

I first met Richard Coaten at Kershaw Grange and found his work with people with dementia to be truly inspirational. One session particularly sticks in my mind: songs and music were played from around the world - African drumming, war-time tunes, music from Cuba. The atmosphere in the room was electric - people were up dancing and clapping, faces full of smiles in a room full of joy. When the music finished Richard sang ‘The Gypsy Rover’ and asked if anyone wanted to join in with the singing. A man from Ireland then sang us all some beautiful Irish ballads - it was fantastic! Here are a couple of Richard’s ‘recipes’ for you to try ... Materials

1 x Body - any size / any height / any constitution CD / Tape / Record Player - use a live musician if you can find one! 1 x Favourite CD of music e.g. jazz, music-hall, ‘boogie-woogie’ piano, classical, big band or whatever 2 x Comfortable upright chairs - not arm-chairs if possible Good quality hand-cream 1 x light free floating scarf - preferably silk 1 x Feather - peacock / pheasant / ostrich Venue Living room or lounge or conservatory if you have one (wherever feels comfortable). Time To suit – preferably not after a large meal and without the likelihood of being disturbed. Try setting the telephone answering machine to ‘answer mode’!

recipe part 1 - hand warming 1. Put on some relaxing music. 2. Invite your partner (relative/friend) to join you and to sit in a chair opposite yours. 3. Ask them if they would like a nice massage for their hands - if ‘no’ do something different! If ‘yes’ go on to Step 4. 4. Gently massage hands with hand cream, working in between fingers, over the palm, on the backs of the hands. Watch out for sensitive skin and for your own arms or hands becoming tired (and theirs). Make sure you are in a comfortable position before you start and check this out as the massage progresses.

Take this opportunity to ‘travel with’, be a ‘companion for’ the person wherever they go in their thoughts, ideas and feelings as you gently massage their hands … in other words go with them and help them enjoy the experience. 22


recipe part 2 - hand moving / dancing 1. Invite the person to see how their hands might like to move, now that they have been given some tender loving care. 2. Ask them if the nice music makes them want to gently move, stretch their fingers and or hand(s). 3. You gently ‘mirror’ if you can the person’s movements, meaning that you join in with this hand moving/dancing experience. You may like to hold the hand or place your palm on theirs and see where this takes you both. Don’t rush or hurry this, it may take time for something to happen. It may take you off the chair and into moving and/or dancing together – you can listen to the rhythm and tempo of the music and go with that – if it is relaxing you might even like to use a scarf and see where that takes you – you might find that you have a feather (peacock or pheasant or even ostrich) in the house and could explore its use as a prop with your person.

Take pleasure in ‘being with’, take pleasure in the music and take pleasure in the sensations and feelings and thoughts that arise as you try this out one day. Let me know how you get on too - that I would appreciate.

Thanks for taking the time to read this and if I’m really lucky you may even be inspired to try it out. Go well and enjoy your time together!

Richard Coaten Movement Psychotherapist South West Yorkshire Mental Health NHS Trust

life history journals

I first met Mark Crowther at one of the Carers meetings at Kershaw Grange. He was giving a talk about his work with people with dementia and their families and how they worked together to create ‘life history’ journals. He showed us some examples and they were beautiful: a man’s life put together with photographs of himself as a child, as a young man about town; his places of work, the sweetheart who became his wife. They included reminiscences from the man and his family about his life and their life together.

These journals are a wonderful idea and a very positive thing to do for the whole family, including the grandchildren!

If you want any further information you can contact Mark Crowther directly:

email: post: CMHT (OP) West, Kershaw Grange Day Unit, Kershaw Crescent, Luddendenfoot, Halifax HX2 6NT MOVEMENT

in a residential care home?

The main consideration in trying out these recipes in a care home is to make sure you feel comfortable taking in the materials you want to work with, especially things like poster or acrylic paints. You will need to check first about access to water and a place to wash your brushes. You may feel more comfortable using a box of watercolours as they are very selfcontained, you just lift the lid, the paint and brushes are there ready and you only need a little pot or even a small bottle of water to wash out the brushes.

I have worked in both the communal lounge and with residents in their rooms, depending on the activity. The communal lounge proved fine for painting, but if it was something quiet like poems and songs, I would try and work in the person’s room as there are fewer distractions.

Once again, this will be something new to try and it may take a while for you to feel wholly comfortable, but please do persevere. I would suggest that you explain to the staff what you are doing and why it is important for your loved one to experience these kinds of activities. You never know, the staff may even try some of them themselves - and wouldn't that be wonderful!

suggested reading

THE BOOK OF A THOUSAND POEMS edited by J Murray Macbain - Published by Bell & Hyman This is my poetry bible. All of my ‘work’ poems are in this book. I have a very old, well-thumbed copy - I love it! THE BAREFOOT BOOK OF CLASSIC POEMS compiled by Jackie Morris - Published by Barefoot Books This is a beautiful book, with full colour illustrations and some magical poems. STAYING ALIVE edited by Neil Astley - Published by Bloodaxe I can't think of any other anthology that has introduced me to so many vivid and memorable poems.

acknowledgements and thanks

verd de gris would like to say thank you to all the people who have helped to make this such an enjoyable and meaningful project. To Rebecca Whelan, Alan Batson and all the staff of Kershaw Grange Day Unit,

Luddendenfoot, West Yorkshire for their continued support on this our third project together. To Polly MacKay

from South West Yorkshire Mental Health Trust for her help and advice in the planning of this project. And to all the families we have met through the Carers Network, for their time and honesty, and for trusting in us to ‘do

the right thing’.

This creative arts project was made possible thanks to the financial support of Awards For All, Calderdale MBC Cultural Grants and the Community Foundation for Calderdale.


This project was devised and produced by Sharon Marsden and Jeff Turner from verd de gris art & design. For more information about our work please email: or visit the website: FURTHER INFORMATION

Family Arts Recipe Book  

Offering new ways to tackle the problem of long term care and dementia, the 'family arts recipe book', draws on the knowledge, advice, love...

Read more
Read more
Similar to
Popular now
Just for you