Memory loss robs dementia sufferers of their identity. Jewish Care has found a way to help them hold on to who they truly are.
Creativity and innovation are essential if we are to ensure people living with dementia are able to live meaningful lives, reconnecting with their past and understanding more about who they are now.
Finding creative ways to reconnect with a person and their memories led Jewish Care to collaborate with Salmagundi Films in order that older people living with Dementia could take part in a new interactive filming project using technology.
Daringly Able was the resulting documentary, telling the story of six residents at Ella & Ridley Jacobs House in Hendon. It features quirky digital portraits and brings their stories to life, celebrating their skills and enabling a greater appreciation of the person they are today.
The stop-frame animation technique has been pioneered by film company, Salmagundi Films, to work with people living with dementia.
Film directors Zoe Flynn and Bo Chapman trained Jewish Care staff to use the apps on ipads and then asked the residents about their lives, bringing photos and personal objects to trigger memories and animate their stories.
The residents or their carers then moved and photographed the objects and added music and a voiceover to create a unique digital portrait. Those who took part in filmmaking found it a hugely rewarding process.
Neil Taylor, Jewish Care’s director of care and community services said: “The reason this kind of collaboration between a film company and our organisation is so important for older people is because it shows their abilities to be creative, which in its own way promotes their self-esteem”.
Caroline D’Souza, Jewish Care’s creative arts development manager talks passionately about the impact on the project on both residents and staff: “This project has strengthened relationships between staff and residents. It has enabled carers to have a deeper understanding of residents and to experience a different side of them. The creative use of ipads, has been an excellent tool to communication, with residents living with both mild and advanced dementia.”
Salmagundi film director Bo Chapman described the film-making process at the home: “We’ve done quite a few projects for care homes before, but this has got a very particular feeling to it. The staff are very enthusiastic and focused and it’s really because we were supported by the management all the way along, and their enthusiasm has rubbed off.”
The film was also commissioned by Jewish Care to help ease the transition of residents when they move later this year from Ella & Ridley Jacobs House to the newly built George Kiss and Kun Mor Home in Friern Barnet.
Film director Zoe Flynn explained: “We set out to create a legacy for this home, something to take with them to the new place. By learning something new together, the staff and the residents have had a shared experience which they can take with them.”
The film highlights each of the resident’s talents, from Doris Landau, a Wimbledon doubles cup winner to former salmon cutter Alfred Shultz, who passed away after the filming. Alfred Shultz cut salmon for the Queen in his working life in the East End of London.
Rightly proud of his skill, when staff member Martha Muga presented him with half a side of salmon he said: “I’ll do it with pleasure.”
He then proceeded to slice the entire side of salmon beautifully. It is as if he had stepped back into his working life many years before. As he sliced, Martha took stills of the process.
Martha said: “Alfred never thought he would be able to hold a knife again, and it was amazing when he did it. Thanks to the animation, his salmon slices on brown bread took on a life of their own, which really amused him.”
Jewish Care has now been funded by The Nathanson Trust to run an ipad creative training programme at the new Betty and Asher Loftus Centre. The funding will be used to buy fifteen ipads and deliver a staff training programme.
Chief executive Simon Morris said: “This new funding assists us to promote meaningful lives for our residents by supporting our staff and volunteers with skills to connect creatively and enrich the lives of the people we support.”
• See Daringly Able https://www.youtube.com/user/JewishCareCharity