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Creativity and Communication in Persons with Dementia

Creativity and Communication in Persons with Dementia

Claire Craig | John Killick



Providing people with dementia with opportunities to engage in creative activity can play a crucial role in maintaining and enhancing communication, and in reinforcing personhood and identity. This thoughtful book describes how people with dementia, and the people who work with and care for them, can foster and develop a creative approach, and provides rich and varied ideas for creative activities.

The authors explore the concept of creativity - what exactly it is, its particular relevance for people with dementia and how to get into the creative 'flow'. They introduce a range of creative art forms, including poetry and story-telling, collage, drama, music-making, photography, textiles and working with wood and metal, and suggest possibilities for employing them in a range of settings, and with people of all abilities. Consideration is given to the practicalities of facilitating such creative work, including how to organise and run sessions, how to involve people with dementia and their carers, and how to reflect upon the experience. Practice examples are included throughout the book, as well as the comments and observations of people with dementia, and many examples of the artwork and poetry the authors have created with people with dementia over the years.

Brimming with ideas, suggestions and helpful guidance, this is an essential resource for all those who work with people with dementia, and an inspiring read for people with dementia and their families.

Killick and Craig must be applauded for their truly inspirational practical guide on Creativity and Communication in Persons with Dementia. This book is a true celebration of the power of the arts for people living with dementia and is drawn on the authors' own experiences and wisdom.
Ageing and Society
This book left me speechless. For years, after being diagnosed with dementia, I moaned that not enough attention is paid to creativity in dementia. Little did I know, a work was in progress. As said inside, it is not meant to be comprehensive, but it covers a lot of ground. I couldn't put it down. You won't either.
James Mckillop MBE, founding member of the Scottish Dementia Working Group
This book is like the most colourful toolbox, crammed with a rich variety of materials begging to be used. John and Claire describe a magnificent mix of creative ideas, helpful insights and beautiful personal accounts from their experiences of working creatively with people living with dementia. Their enthusiasm is infectious; anyone who reads this will be inspired and excited to employ the creative strategies within. The book is about relationships; it is about developing sensitivities to be empathic, creative, opportunistic and communicative with people who have dementia and above all it is intensely human. John and Claire bring extraordinary clarity to the ways that they both work with people showing us how to gently gain empathy, use creative media and act as instruments to make tangible other people's words, meanings and feelings. The book will bring insight and inspiration to readers from any background. It will be a valuable tool to me in my continuing practice and I urge you to join me in taking John and Claire's advice, to let go of our assumptions of what we think we can achieve and to throw ourselves into these wonderful ideas.
Dr Jayne Wallace, Senior Lecturer, School of Design, Northumbria University
Killick and Craig must be applauded for their truly inspirational practical guide on Creativity and Communication in Persons with Dementia. This book is a true celebration of the power of the arts for people living with dementia and is drawn on the authors' own experiences and wisdom. Killick and Craig assert that whilst there has been significant financial investment in biomedical research, the care of people living with dementia has been notably overlooked, to the detriment of wellbeing and affirmation of identity and self-esteem. This book attempts to redress this imbalance and is aimed at anyone (with any level of artistic talent!) with an interest in working alongside people living with dementia in a creative capacity, be they practitioners, volunteers, family members or researchers.
Journal of Ageing & Society
For practitioners convinced of the value of creative activity, this book will be a valuable resource. The authors offer many thought-provoking accounts and personal insights.
Nursing Standard
John Killick has 16 years' experience of direct work with people with dementia in nursing homes, day centres, hospital wards, and in people's own homes. His pioneering poetry work is well-known internationally, but he has also explored the possibilities of using a variety of other art-forms to enhance communication. He has lectured, written, broadcasted and run training sessions in a variety of countries and is passionately committed to increasing opportunities for people with the condition everywhere to take part in creative activities. John is currently Writer in Residence for Alzheimer Scotland and runs an improvised drama project for Scottish Dementia Working Group. Claire Craig is a qualified occupational therapist living in Yorkshire. The main focus of her work is the relationship between creativity and well-being, particularly in relation to people with dementia. She currently holds the ROMPA quality of Life Award for research focusing on creativity and spirituality in care homes and she gained the Higher Education Academy Subject Centre Learning & Teaching Award in 2010 in recognition for her innovative approaches to education. Claire works as a Senior Lecturer and Researcher in the Art and Design Research Centre at Sheffield Hallam University.
It is refreshing to have a book written where the outlook is of dementia having few barriers of boundaries on creativity... I find this book an inspirational read; it presents a wealth of ideas, suggestions, guidance and experience in the field of creativity and dementia. Most importantly it demonstrates how persons with dementia and those around them can gain from engaging in creativity activity.
Whatever John Killick writes concerning dementia is eminently worth reading, perhaps even more so when he co-authors a book with another expert in the field... The present publication (...) will be invaluable for activities organisers in care homes and community-based projects, and of considerable interest to anyone caring for a person with dementia... The book is both insightful and practical
Plus - Christian Council on Ageing
This charming, erudite book presents a wealth of experience about the arts and dementia in a readable and helpful form. The two authors are acknowledged experts with long experience of using a wide range of arts in this field. The book is therefore well grounded in practice and full of inspirational stories. It is also a treasure trove of ideas, suggestions and helpful guidance.
Mary Marshall, Professor Emeritus, University of Stirling
We can be sure that any book with John Killlick as author or co-author is going to be good. Not just good but inspirational. Killick sparks the creativity in all of us and care homes can be such lively places with people exploring a wide variety of creative activities: music, dance, poetry, drama, storytelling, painting, ceramics, sculpture, textiles, photography. All of these and others are offered by the authors. Just wonderful stuff: exciting, imaginative, and practical.
Caring Times
John and Claire's timely book shows why being engaged and entertained by singing, looking at paintings, taking photographs, dancing and other activities offers a bridge to joy, satisfaction and self identity for people with dementia. Brimming with ideas, research, reflection, and practice examples and woven throughout with comments and observations of people with dementia, it's an inspiring, effortless read not only for a wide range of health and social care practitioners, but, importantly, for artists and performers, whose work can help those experiencing a crisis of self, reconnect with life and living.
Maria Parsons, Director, ARTZ UK: Artists for Alzheimers