Call for Comic and Graphic novel submissions

Jessica Kingsley Publishers and Singing Dragon (an imprint of JKP) have recently started developing an exciting new line of comics and graphics novels and we are now open for submissions.

At JKP we are committed to publishing books that make a difference. Our range of subjects includes autism, dementia, social work, art therapies, mental health, counselling, palliative care and practical theology. Have a look on for our full range of titles.

Singing Dragon publishes authoritative books on all aspects of Chinese medicine, yoga therapy, aromatherapy, massage, Qigong and complementary and alternative health more generally, as well as Oriental martial arts. Find out more on

If you have an idea that you think would work well as a graphic book, or are an artist interested in working with us, here is what we are looking for:

Graphic novel or comic – Long form

We are looking for book proposals that are between 100 and 200 pages, black and white or colour, and explore the topics listed above or another subject that would fit into the JKP/Singing Dragon list. Specifically we are hoping to develop more personal autobiographical stories.

Here are the guidelines for submission:

  1. A one-page written synopsis detailing the plot/outline of the book, as well as short bios of all the creators involved.
  2. Character sketches of the main characters with descriptions.
  3. Solo artist/writers or writer and artist teams should submit 5 to 10 completed pages to allow us to get a sense of the pace, art style and writing.
  4. Solo writers will need to submit 10 to 20 pages of script as well as the one-page synopsis from point 1.

Comic – Short form

We have some shorter comic projects underway and are looking to expand the range of topics covered. These books can run from 20 to 40 pages, black and white or colour, with dimensions of 170x230mm. We are mainly looking for comics that provide ideas and information for both professionals and general readers.

For example, the first in this series, published by Singing Dragon, is a book exploring the latest developments in chronic pain research.

Here are the guidelines for submission:

  1. A one-page written synopsis detailing the narrative style and subject matter to be explored in the book. Also include short bios of all the creators involved.
  2. Solo artist/writers or writer and artist teams should submit 3 to 5 completed pages to allow us to get a sense of the pace, art style and writing.
  3. Solo writers will need to submit 5 to 10 pages of script as well as the one-page synopsis from point 1.

When submitting please provide low-res images and send them, along with everything else, to Mike Medaglia at

If you have any other ideas that don’t directly relate to the subjects described above but you feel might still fit into the JKP or Singing Dragon list, please feel free to get in touch with ideas and enquiries on the email above.

Catching up with Ann Andrews – inspirational author of Positively Parkinson’s

Ann Andrews worked as a television and theatre producer, researcher, teacher and crisis counsellor. She was diagnosed with Parkinson’s in her fifties, and went on to write the informative, practical and inspiring guide to living well with Parkinson’s; Positively Parkinson’s.  We caught up with Ann to find out what she’s been up to since the publication of her book, how she’s managing her Parkinson’s symptoms now, and what she’s looking forward to in the future.

Andrews - image 1

Ann speaking to fellow Parkinson’s sufferers

Since the publishing of Positively Parkinson’s I have travelled through most of the North Island and some of the South Island of  New Zealand talking to groups of people with Parkinson’s. In doing so I have met people from all over the World and everyone has told me how important the book has been for them. It seems to have achieved what I most wanted it to do:  help us all have a better understanding of Parkinson’s and to become a do-it-yourself guide to helping ourselves stay well.

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Ann at a signing session

I went to New York last year and am going back again this Christmas. We have a daughter there and a delightful about-to-be-two-years old grandson. While I was there I tried to promote the book which is published in the United States with the title I have Parkinson’s. What should I do? I found not many people had heard of it. However, I got to know a great group of Parkinsonian’s, members of a Brooklyn group.

A couple of years earlier a NY dance company had visited Auckland and offered dance lessons for people with Parkinson’s. They were called the Mark Morris Dance Company. One of the dancers John Heginbotham features in Positively Parkinson’s (page 126). While in NY I got in touch with John and another dancer David Leventhal, and was thrilled to be invited to a dance lesson at the home of Mark Morris Dance.

John was about to leave to join the same dance company in San Francisco and I was able to be there for his last lesson. In doing so I met the Brooklyn group. I was fortunate in being able to attend about five dance lessons with David Leventhal and student members of the dance company.

Pamela and Ann chatting at Mark Morris NY, December 2012

Pamela and Ann chatting at Mark Morris NY, December 2012

I describe the New Zealand lesson in my book (page 127) but being there at the home of the dance company was very special. As well as dance lessons I went to some movement lessons with Pamela Quinn, a dancer who has early onset Parkinson’s. She is so fit I found it difficult to keep up with her in class, though most of the other members seemed to be able to.

You can see her and some of her exercises on YouTube.  If you would like to know more about the dance lessons you could get in touch with Maria Portman-Kelly who manages the Parkinson’s classes at the Mark Morris Dance School.

What these classes also achieve is to provide a meeting place for people with Parkinson’s. Attending class once or twice a week at Mark Morris or the Juliana School at the Lincoln Centre means New Yorkers can meet for coffee and a chat as well as exercise.

Ann reading her new children's story book

Ann reading her new children’s story book

This year I have written a bright picture book for children and grandchildren of someone who has Parkinson’s; a child’s guide. Called Grandma’s Brain, it is illustrated with drawings of me and my grandsons, my brain, a young space traveller and space pirates.  My son, a magazine publisher, is publishing the book which will be available sometime early in 2015. By then I hope to also have a website. The story is meant for children aged between 5 and 12 to read themselves or be read to. It is light, humorous, entertaining, yet informative and is colourfully illustrated. Look out for it!

In the last year I have had a few falls and my balance is not what it used to be. It has been both an eye-opener and a wake-up call.  I now use a hiking stick when out and about. I find friends and family very quick to offer an arm, which is nice and I take it without demur.

More of my friends have now had the deep brain stimulation operation, one as young as 43. They seem a lot better and have been able to reduce their medicine intake.  There is also a very different research programme here in Auckland which utilises the same initial brain operation, but for quite a different reason. I’ll try and explain it: To begin with… On an island in the Auckland islands group (far south of NZ into Antarctic waters) some pigs were left about two hundred years ago. Because of their isolation they have developed into a healthy virus free herd. Some of these pigs now live in a separate isolated location in New Zealand.

Pig tissue has been used successfully in medical treatments for many years, but this research is about pig cells. The programme entails removing some choroid plexus cells from deep within the pig’s brain. The choroid plexus in all brains releases a growth factor that repairs cells and makes nerves grow. Obviously we can’t transplant human choroid factor cells but we can use those from pigs, especially virus free pigs.

To inhibit the immune system from rejecting the pig cells they are placed in tiny capsules rather like Goretex which shield the cells while letting nutrients in and growth factors out. The treatment involves surgically placing the cells into the brain to encourage the nerves that have died back to regrow. A group of six people with Parkinson’s are taking part in this research. They will be assessed carefully and if there is no improvement after six months they will be offered the alternative deep brain stimulation.

I have tried to think of anything I particularly wanted to add to Positively Parkinson’s. There have been things that occurred to me, but which I can’t remember at this moment. I’m still experimenting. I have been on a course of hormone Andrews_Positively-Park_978-1-84905-411-9_colourjpg-printreplacement which is supposed to help me remember things. I’m not sure it does, but six months on my memory does seem better. I’m sure one of the most helpful things you can do is keep working on yourself. Hold a constant dialogue with your brain. Tell it to take bigger steps, make a bigger voice and do the exercise you’ve been putting off.

One group I don’t mention in the book is the nurses working in homes for the elderly. I have talked to a number of them and found they had little understanding of Parkinson’s in the people they were caring for. They had no idea that it could be the cause of a mask-like face, the inability to smile and the lack of a voice; with the result that many of them misjudged their patients completely.  To me this is dreadful.  I have tried to impress on them that this kind of ignorance would be what people with Parkinson’s fear most.

Not a good ending. On a positive note I’ve just completed another Lee Silverman Voice Training Programme and found I had slipped back by not practising at home enough. I’ve tried LSVT Big from a useful YouTube programme called LSVT Big home exercise video. It’s expensive to learn the complete programme here so I add some of the video exercises to the same ones I have in the book.  I have added weights to try and keep my muscle tone and then, of course, I have my new exercycle which I can ride inside when the weather is not conducive for walking.

So, think big, think positive and keep doing everything you can. Your brain will find new pathways.

Ann Andrews.

Find out more about Ann’s book, read reviews or order your copy here 

Request a copy of our latest brochure of books on Dementia.

Our latest catalogue of books on Dementia and Working with Older People is now available. With full information on our new and bestselling dementia titles, our dementia catalogue is a tremendous resource not only for those working with 2014-October---Dementia-Catalogue---COVERpeople affected by dementia, but also for family members, friends and carers. Including practical books for professionals, manuals on how to incorporate creative approaches into dementia care, as well as guides on coping with dementia for friends, family and individuals who are themselves affected.

To receive a free copy of the catalogue, please sign up for our mailing list and we’ll get one out to you right away. You may also request multiple copies to share with friends, family, colleagues and clients–simply note how many copies you would like (up to 20) in the ‘any additional comments’ box on the sign-up form.

We hope you will take advantage of this opportunity to get more information about our outstanding new and upcoming titles such as How We Think About Dementia and Developing Excellent Care for People Living with Dementia in Care Homes. The catalogue also features information on bestselling titles such as Leadership for Person-Centered Dementia Care  and Comforting Touch in Dementia and End of Life Care, as well moving personal accounts of the experience of dementia such as Dancing with Dementia  from Christine Bryden.

Click this link to see a listing of new and recent titles from Jessica Kingsley Publishers’ Dementia list.

To request a copy of the JKP complete catalogue of books on dementia, please click here to fill out our sign-up sheet. Please be sure to click any additional areas of interest as well. You should receive a copy of the catalogue within two – three weeks.



On Grandma’s Box of Memories – interview with the creators

Jean Demetris was a primary school teacher for 22 years. 8 years ago her husband was diagnosed with Lewy body dementia. She dealt with many aspects of the condition, the highs and lows, and engaged with the many agencies involved in her husband’s care.
The experience inspired Jean and her illustrator son Alex to create a storybook for young children; to help them understand and talk about dementia with their families. We caught up with them both for a quick chat about the inspiration behind the book and what they hope it will achieve. 



Q1. Where did the idea for Grandma’s Box of Memories
come from?

Jean: There were two factors that prompted the idea for the book.

Firstly, when my husband was diagnosed with Lewy Body Dementia I needed information.  I found there were plenty of books on dementia for adults and some for teenagers, but hardly any for young children.

Secondly, in my husband’s nursing home I felt there was a need for more activities and stimulation for the residents.  This made me think about what could be done to encourage residents’ families and friends to participate with the residents and involve them in engaging activities.

Taking these two factors into consideration, I came up with the idea for the book that would become Grandma’s Box of Memories.


Q2. How did you Alex (Jean’s son) become involved in making the book?

Alex: A few months after Dad died Mum spoke to me about her idea for the book.  I liked the sound of it, so we started work on the book’s structure and on sketching out illustrations.  Soon we had put together several sample pages and before long we were very pleased to receive a commission for the full version.

I had relatively recently graduated with an MA in Illustration from Camberwell College of the Arts for which my final project had been a comic based on my family’s experiences of Dad’s dementia. Grandma’s Box of Memories represented another opportunity to work on a subject that was close to my heart.


Q3. Do you have any suggestions for people on how to adjust to the changes they are likely to encounter when a family member is affected by dementia?

Jean: My experience is of a family member with Lewy Body Dementia.  Different forms of dementia have different characteristics and symptoms, so the adjustments their family and friends may need to make may be different.

Dementia should not be viewed as a stigma.  Find out as much as possible about the condition from professionals and support groups.  They will be able to advise you on available help and support, so use this to your advantage.

You must accept that you have to adjust to dealing with a changed person.  Acknowledge the limitations that dementia can cause in people.  Focus on small activities and do not expect too much of the person.  Everyday tasks such as using the telephone or cooking will become difficult for people with dementia; safety around the home becomes a priority.  Social services should help you to install devices such as gas, water and personal alarms.  You can also be creative in helping the person to remain independent using small measures such as sticky notes reminding them to lock doors, close windows, or turn off taps.

If the person with dementia is alone at home it is also helpful to arrange for friends and neighbours to drop by and check they are safe.

Personal hygiene may become problematic as reluctance to bathe or change clothes can take hold, and you may need to help with these tasks.  Initially this may cause embarrassment but it can be overcome.

Patience and understanding will win out over confrontation in dealing with situations, and a sense of humour is essential.

Should your family member need residential care, try to help make it a home from home.  Enjoy going there and participate in events such as birthday celebrations.  Engage with staff and other residents.  You will encounter people you would not normally meet, which can be rewarding.

Don’t be upset when acquaintances find it difficult to engage with the person with dementia.  Some people will naturally find the situation hard to deal with.

Your lifestyle will change, sometimes quite dramatically.  Caring for a person with dementia can be hard work emotionally and physically, but don’t be hard on yourself.  Seek help – it’s there, and find time for you.  Occasional treats are a must.


Q4. What do you hope young readers will gain from this book?Illustration 22

Jean: Grandma’s Box of Memories is meant to be educational and entertaining; I hope readers will enjoy the story, illustrations and characters.

The book provides children with basic but helpful information about dementia, and invites readers to suggest their own ideas for items to go in a memory box.  It might also encourage children to be creative and come up with ideas of their own to support people with dementia.

Hopefully, it will help children understand that they can be part of the caring process and share their feelings and ideas with family members.


Q5. What should parents remember when they are explaining dementia to younger children?

Jean: Children will be aware that something is wrong but will normally accept the diagnosis of dementia given the appropriate support.  It is natural for an adult to want to protect the child yet is important to explain what is going on in a calm and clear way.  A child may experience a range of emotions, such as sadness, anxiety, anger and confusion, and will need reassurance that adults are there for them and can offer them time for discussion, both talking and listening and encouragement to ask questions.

It is important that the child understands that dementia cannot be cured but there are ways to help the person feel loved and wanted.


Q6. How can children be involved in the care of family members?

Jean: Most obviously, children can pay frequent visits to the person with dementia.  During these visits they can look at books and photos with the person, chat with them, listen to music and sing and dance, draw pictures, or do simple jigsaws.  They can also share small treats such as sweets and biscuits and help to peel and share pieces of fruit.

Outings to places like local parks are another way that children can be involved in caring for someone with dementia.  Sharing simple outdoor activities like playing catch or feeding ducks is fun for everybody.

Please note: if you are in the US or Canada, you can view the book information page and order your copy here.


Browse our latest collection of new and bestselling titles in social work and social care.

Here are our new and bestselling titles in social work and social care. For more information on any of the books inside, simply click the title or cover image to view the full book page.



Request a free copy of the latest Social Work and Social Care catalogue.

Have you signed up to receive a copy of our latest catalogue of new and bestselling titles in  Social Work and Social Care yet? Franklin-Sander_Personalisation_978-1-84905-443-0_colourjpg-print

A fantastic resource for anyone working in the social care; from front line workers and students, to local authorities, health professionals and social work managers, packed with our latest and most popular titles covering all areas of social work.

If you haven’t already signed up to our mailing list, and you’d like your free copy, you can sign up here and we’ll get one out to you right away. You may also request multiple copies to share with friends, colleagues and clients–simply note how many copies of the catalogue you would like (up to 20) in the ‘any additional comments’ box on the sign-up form.

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Karen Watchman on Intellectual Disability and Dementia

Karen Watchman, Lecturer in Dementia at the Alzheimer Scotland Centre for Policy and Practice, and editor of the new book Intellectual Disability and Dementia, joined us for a short interview. She talks about how she became involved in the field, and gives her advice for those working with and supporting people with intellectual disabilities and dementia.

How did you get involved with this area of study?
I spent many years as Director of Down’s Syndrome Scotland where I worked alongside families and people with Down syndrome of all ages. There was even less research conducted about dementia in people with intellectual disabilities at that time which spurred me on to complete a Masters degree in Dementia followed by a PhD researching the experiences of people with Down syndrome and dementia. So, whilst I have an academic interest in this area I am very much grounded in practice and in ensuring that information is made available in an accessible format.
My Great Aunt had Down syndrome and, unusually for the period in which she grew up, lived at home with family into her adult years. So it came as no surprise when research started showing the link between quality of life and increased life expectancy.


People with disabilities are living for longer and as a result we are seeing more people with intellectual disabilities than ever develop dementia as they age. What training is available for carers and professionals to help deal with this increase?Watchman Intellectual Disability and Dementia 9781849054225
Typically in the UK, staff, volunteers and carers supporting people with an intellectual disability do not have training in dementia. Similarly, staff supporting older people with dementia do not have training in intellectual disabilities, despite many younger people (especially with Down syndrome) being diagnosed, and some moved inappropriately to care homes for older people.
This is slowly starting to change but there is still not enough interdisciplinary exchange of learning. Training and courses that I deliver where staff attend from across sectors are very valuable, as participants learn from each other. However, it is not just intellectual disability or dementia services – equally important, especially as dementia progresses, is the input of all allied health and palliative professions and that there is partnership working with all services talking to each other and to carers, and all being consistent in their approach.



Are they any particular methods or activities which are helpful in explaining a dementia diagnosis to someone with an intellectual disability?
This is an area addressed in the book and is something that doesn’t receive enough attention currently. As a result there is inconsistency in practice. Information about a diagnosis or suspected diagnosis of dementia is not routinely shared with the person who has an intellectual disability, despite UK dementia strategies maintaining that everyone has a right to know of their diagnosis. We need to think more about how this can be done with people who have an intellectual disability and embrace non-verbal communication methods too.



What should staff or carers be aware of in order to be able to support people with an intellectual disability and dementia?
Someone who already works alongside people with an intellectual disability is likely to have been trained to support people to maximise their independence, to work towards independent living or community involvement to the best of their ability. Their work will be person centred and will be focused on the needs of each individual. There is an element or re-learning required by staff when the person with an intellectual disability has a diagnosis of dementia. The work should still be person centred and based around the individual but as capacity and cognitive ability change there is an associated need to change the way that staff, volunteers, family and friends provide support.
Carers also need information about interventions – this may or may not include medication. Social interventions such as meaningful activities and life story work are also essential. Awareness of contraindications with medication is important especially as many people with intellectual disabilities are over-prescribed anti-psychotic medication.
Specific knowledge of dementia that needs to be shared with staff, volunteers, family and friends include: what dementia is, different types of dementia and how each affects the person, early signs (this can differ from early signs in older people without an intellectual disability), environmental adaptation to ensure that accommodation is appropriate to the persons changing needs, communication changes and physical changes that will occur as the condition progresses. I am often asked for help with what is perceived as a behavioural issue, but with appropriate information or training there is a realisation that if we get the environment, communicating and our approach right – this is what has caused the changes in behaviour.  We need to work out the triggers and acknowledge our role in this – often a change in behaviour is caused by us not understanding the person and not providing appropriate support.

Intellectual Disability and Dementia is due to be published May 2014. 
Karen Watchman is the editor of the book as well as an experienced expert in working with intellectual disabilities. 


Activities for Older People in Care Homes – even when everyone’s under the weather!

Sarah Crockett, author of Activities for Older People in Care Homes, writes about how, with the right attitude, activities co-ordinators can turn any situation (even an outbreak of illness) into an opportunity for positive interaction.

Being an Activity Co-ordinator means different things to different people – and it often means different things depending on what day, or time of day it is. But what is at the core of the role? If you got down to the bare essentials what would it look like?

Activities for Older People in Care Homes Cover

Activities for Older People in Care Homes

In a community of people who are particularly vulnerable, an outbreak (lit. more than 7 people ill at once) means that everyone is barrier nursed, everyone is confined to their room, seeing one or two people in the day, and in the worst case restricted to bread and water as well. But the thing about sickness from an activities point of view is that it reduces everybody’s complex needs to just one. I am bored and miserable, make me feel better! And in this setting, what makes almost everyone feel better is a smiling face, a cup of tea (or hot beverage of choice), and a good chat. Sure, what the chat is about is different for everyone – although most people will start off from much the same topic – I hate being stuck in here on my own. And yes, the theme that develops will be very personal, but its people being people at grass roots level. Being an activity person suddenly ceases to be about complex needs, reams of paperwork, trying to make life better in a big way for everyone, trying to manage a budget (or lack of one), trying to create a press release worthy event every single week, forward planning, all the myriad things that go on day to day. Suddenly it’s about one human being sitting with another human being and just being! It’s the most person centred activity I’ve done in a long time, and the one that’s met the most needs. I have to admit it’s exhausting and exhilarating in about equal measures; the day seems endless with none of the usual structure built in, but the quality of the interactions rockets. There is nothing else to do, no desperate pressing of time, no secret conviction that one’s time could be better spent in doing this differently. There is just the person in front of you – oh, and the cup of tea. It can be daunting – going in to visit someone that you don’t usually sit and chat to, wondering if there will be enough to say, wondering if you are the right person to be doing this. But ultimately you are the right person, because you are the person that is there.

I’d like to introduce you to Edward. He’s been with us four and a bit months. I’ve been in and chatted to him a little, and enjoyed it, I’ve done an assessment of his needs – he’s nursed in bed palliatively, he loves classical music, and his personal radio needs to be in the bed with him, he is a practising Christian who will take communion whenever offered, and he doesn’t want a glass of beer – he’d rather have apple juice or tea. But with 61 other people, that’s about as far as I’ve got so far. Earlier this week I was part of a conversation that talked about him giving up, being very depressed, being very weak, saying that actually his death is very near. He spent most of this week asleep, or violently angry at the world. Wednesday morning after I cancel all the activities planned for the day I walk past his room. A carer coming out says that he is calm this morning, and awake. So I go in. He’s just got a cup of tea, so I sit and help him drink it, and listen to him talk – mostly he just needs an audience. I don’t necessarily agree with some of his opinions, but I’m here to boost him, not me, so I make the right noises in the right places, and gradually the conversation starts to shift. Half an hour later I offer him another cup of tea, which he accepts. And half an hour after that, another one. By now we’ve talked about his career as an engineer and draftsman, my garden and first potato harvest of the year, the fact that whoever stuck the roof on the building opposite didn’t have the first idea of coherent design, he just wanted to tart the place up to sell, and money as the root of all evil. Oh and steak – the joy of a good steak dinner, possibly involving potato salad. Edward has also asked me to pass him the model buses from the desk where they are half hidden in the 90th birthday cards. He’s shown them to me with the pride of a creator. He made them himself in his shed. He would go and look at the real things, make notes, then create them from the blue prints in his head. We discuss the idea that it’s the same with me and making clothes – seeing how a thing ought to go, and making it so. He shows me the tricks, where they come apart, his favourite views. He tells me how he made them. He also tells me that his sister used to design clothes, but couldn’t draw – she’d describe them to him, and he would draw them. He tells me that his hobby was always woodwork, it lit him up.

At the end of an hour and a half he decides he shouldn’t hold me up, and dismisses me to ‘go and get on with some jobs’. I assume he’s tired, so do as I’m bid. If Edward is tired, it’s with the status quo. When the carer comes to help him with his lunch – he is too weak to manage to feed himself, or to chew very much – he tells her in no uncertain terms that she’s not to mush it all up like that, and she’s to sit over there in that chair whilst he gets on with his lunch thank you very much. By the end of lunch time everyone is talking about how Edward ate his own lunch, and the carer who was made to sit in the corner is wearing it like a badge of honour. That afternoon Edward demands paper and pencil, and sits drawing the view from his bedroom window. The following morning he demands bacon and eggs for breakfast. When I arrive he not only remembers me, he wants to know what took me so long, and is thrilled that I’ve made him some potato salad fresh from the garden! Two days later Edward (who suffers from acute postural hypotension) is sitting on the side of his bed, trying to get up.

I’m not saying this is all down to me, to the feeling of being actively listened to, there are other contributory factors – for example he has come off his medication this week as well. But I do know that this was an hour and a half of my time very, very well spent.

Activities for Older People In Care Homes is now available from Jessica Kingsley Publishers.

The magic of puppetry in dementia care

copyrightKM2012Writing1BWIn this post Karrie Marshall, author of Puppetry in Dementia Care, describes using the power of puppetry to engage with emotions that go beyond words and memory, and how she was met with a tentative response on first suggesting the idea in adult care work.

When I first started talking about joyfulness in relation to dementia, people found that a difficult concept to consider. At conferences I noticed the majority of terms used to describe dementia conveyed a sense of hopelessness and despair. These difficult feelings are of course very real for many family carers and individuals facing a diagnosis of dementia. However, it is also important to acknowledge the real capacity for humour, positive relations, creativity and enjoyment.

My talks give examples from the book of uplifting experiences shared by people with dementia and their carers (family or paid staff). I love hearing members of the audience talk about their own experiences. People generally want better services or want to know how to improve dementia care. The talks help people see this is possible.

Throughout my career in nursing and lecturing I found people learned more and communicated better in a creative environment. My specialty is puppetry, but all art forms can reduce stress, increase confidence and improve interactions with or without words. I am interested in how we (professional care staff, family carers, relatives, artists and the general public) can use this knowledge to improve quality of lives.

Recently my talk for the Scottish Women’s Rural Institute focused on positive communication. Talks for local libraries give practical tips and creative ideas from the book. My university talks focus on person-centred care and compassion, which are major themes underpinning the book. The talks also offer opportunities to share best practice with carers and artists.

When I first introduced puppetry into adult care work, there was a hesitant response! But puppetry has a long history with adults (making social and political comment). There is also a magical quality to puppets. They engage with emotions that go beyond words or memory. I love the stories in the book that show how people with dementia focus on the puppet and completely ignore the puppeteers, the staff and the relatives!

One of the biggest challenges carers face is around relationship changes. Sometimes the nature of the dementia may mean reduced recognition of a loved one. For others the relatives are dealing with mood swings or behaviour changes. Learning how to let go of the relationship they used to have whilst maintaining a loving and meaningful connection is complex. In the book I show how this process is possible through creativity. First I explore a theory about relationships between care-givers and care-receivers that describes a progression towards alienation.  During talks, audience members give examples of feeling they are losing someone, or of drifting apart.

However, over the past ten years of working creatively with families and care staff and people with dementia, I know people can go beyond alienation. They can re-emerge into a different way of connecting that has moments of pure joy and wonderment. People have different ways of reaching this, but generally we find people with dementia get there faster!

Each experience of dementia is individual, and that is a key message in the book. Not everyone wants to be actively engaged, so we discuss the therapeutic use of silence and breathing in unison. Often I find this leads to participation. It works because people tune into where the person is. The book explores theories about human motivation and the importance of matching individual needs.

One of my favourite stories is about a man who people thought might not be interested in anything to do with creativity and certainly not puppetry.  He turned out to be one of our most enthusiastic participant puppeteers. He helped make a puppet of himself (instructions are given in the book).  This had great presence and character, as so many of the ‘soul puppets’ tend to have.  I often get a sense that the work helps us see people more clearly. Creativity has no boundaries.

It takes a long time – perhaps a lifetime – and a lot of practice to really understand what it means to be person-centred, to genuinely consider and positively respond to individual preferences. Yet this is at the heart of good dementia care. Writing the book helped me explore how we can better do this, and highlights the importance of support for carers to connect confidently and creatively.



Books for Professionals Working with Older People.

If you work with older people or have an interest in elder care and dementia care, we’ve put together this booklet of new and bestselling titles which might be of interest to you. Feel free to browse, share and email the booklet to anyone you think might be interested. Double click on the booklet to view full-screen.



Please also note: although the prices shown here are in UK £, most books are available internationally. If you’d like any further information on any of the books in the leaflet, simply click on the title you’re interested in and it will take you straight to the book information page.

If you’d like to download and print a copy of the leaflet, simply click here.