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The Leveson Centre for the study of Ageing, Spirituality and Social Policy
 

The Wells of Life:

moments of worship with people with dementia – suggestions for action
Gaynor Hammond and Jackie Treetops,
Faith in Elderly People, Leeds, 26 pages, £4.00.

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Review by Alison Johnson (Centre Consultant)

Gaynor Hammond and Jackie Treetops have considerable experience of working with people with dementia – Gaynor as a nurse and project worker concerned with spiritual needs and Jackie as a priest. This booklet is written from their concern that people with dementia are primarily people and despite their illness have the same spiritual needs as any other members of the community. The overall theme of the booklet is to look at moments of worship with people who have dementia and how these moments bring added quality to life.

The booklet begins with a consideration of spirituality and looks at the way in which people with dementia live in the moment. This is illustrated by the story of a lady whose face shone with delight during the celebration of her birthday with family and friends – but the next day complained that no one ever visited her! This is followed by practical advice on acts of worship with illustrations from the seasons of the year and details of the Memory Box reminiscence work and the development of Friendship Groups which are the hallmarks of Faith in Elderly People.

A concluding chapter which will be of great value to relatives, staff and Christian visitors explores the question of forgiveness and absolution in relation to people with dementia and their carers.

Some readers may be irritated by the mixture of first and third person narrative but this does not detract from the moving and inspirational accounts of the ministry both authors have carried out in Leeds nor from the helpful suggestions and advice they offer to anyone concerned with the spiritual needs of people with dementia who is asked to conduct services of worship or be pastorally involved with them.

Alison Johnson (Centre Consultant)

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