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The Leveson Centre for the study of Ageing, Spirituality and Social Policy
Dementia: pastoral theology and pastoral care

Dementia: pastoral theology and pastoral care

James Saunders,
Grove Books Ltd, 2002, ISBN 1-85174-492-4, 24pp, £2.50.

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Review by Brian Allen

This booklet by James Saunders belongs to a well established series which claims to be "Not the last word… but often the first". The publishers also state that their authors are "practitioners, not theorists". So one might expect something both innovative and practical. By these criteria this slim publication might be a little disappointing. Nonetheless it goes a long way to fill a gap in this particular series.

The author is recently ordained; when preparing for ordained ministry he encountered people with dementia as posing fundamental questions for him. Saunders writes with feeling arising from personal experience, albeit relatively limited.

Pastoral care for the person with dementia occupies only three of the booklet's twenty four pages. Most of the rest of the space is devoted to arguing for a Christian understanding which is inclusive of people with dementia. For subscribers to this series who have not faced up to some of these challenges this discussion will be useful. For those wanting something more practical they could well need to look elsewhere. The references for further reading, advice and information are rather thin and dated for so recent a publication. Academic theologians feature mainly in the bibliography.

Readers of this series have been given some food for though at a very reasonable price. Having chewed it over, they might be left with an appetite for a little more help in turning that thought into action.

Brian Allen (Chaplaincy Team Leader Newcastle, North Tyneside and Northumberland Mental Health trust and a member of the CCOA Dementia Group)

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