We caught up with Gary Mitchell on the publication of his important new resource for dementia care professionals – Doll Therapy in Dementia Care.
What motivated you to write the book – Doll Therapy in Dementia Care?
I qualified as a nurse in 2010 and my first post was in a dementia care unit in Northern Ireland. When I began working on the unit I quickly saw the benefits of person-centred care and non-pharmacological interventions. One particular intervention that was regularly taking place on the unit was ‘doll therapy’. Initially it was an intervention that I wholeheartedly rejected because I felt it perpetuated stigma that can be associated with dementia. I felt like playing with dolls would undermine the person-hood of the individuals living with dementia I was nursing. After some time I began to see some very positive outcomes in some of our residents’ quality of life who engaged with doll therapy. On reviewing the evidence in 2010, I found that there wasn’t really that much out there. Over the past number of years I have closely studied doll therapy in dementia care through my practice and academia. My opinions on doll therapy, informed by evidence and practice, are starkly different. In short, doll therapy can enhance the quality of life for some people who live with dementia. This was the sole reason for writing this book – to share the evidence and practice about doll therapy so as people living with dementia who will benefit from it can be enabled to do so. Continue reading
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Identifying current global policy challenges for living well with dementia, this book tackles controversial topics at the forefront of public and political debate, and highlights pockets of innovation and good practice from around the world to inform practical solutions for living well with dementia in the future. We talked to Dr Rahman about the book and his thoughts on the current process of dementia diagnosis.
What motivated you to write Living Better with Dementia?
The name of the only national dementia strategy for England so far was ‘Living well with dementia’. This name is problematic, as it potentially sets people up to fail. What if a person has a bad day? We’re all entitled to have a bad day.
The actual strategy expired in 2014, exactly five years after it was launched by a previous government in 2009. I wanted to keep with the ethos that it is possible to aspire to live as well as possible with dementia. The prism of long term conditions suits people with dementia much better than the approach which relies solely on drug treatments.
The title of the book, Living Better with Dementia, is in fact from Chris Roberts, living with mixed dementia of the Alzheimer type and vascular type. I am honoured that Chris wrote one of the forewords. Kate Swaffer, Chair of Dementia Alliance International, wrote the main foreword.
There has to be an alignment of rhetoric and reality. That’s why I respect the work of Beth Britton who wrote the final foreword. Beth has an intimate lived experience of dementia from family, and professional experience in how this impacts on actual care. The topics of my book give a realistic state-of-the-art exploration of key themes in wellbeing in dementia, not entrenched in dogma, but which promote awareness and education. Continue reading