As mentioned in the last post, I was at Writers’ Week last week. I couldn’t help remembering WW last year, which I attended with my pal Romi. We have been friends for nearly 30 years, since we both started work in Aberfoyle Park in the same week in 1986, and this friendship has continued despite the long distances that came with her return to the UK in the early 1990’s.
After she left Oz, Romi went on to have another big adventure later in the year. She was the recipient of a Churchill Fellowship that enabled her to go to US and Canada to find out about different ways to work creatively with people with dementia (Romi is a writer). As part of the process, the Churchill people ask their Fellows to keep a blog about their project. Romi’s blog is really interesting. Since she returned home to Northumberland she has continued to post stories about some of the people she met, and programs she was part of.
I love the way that so many people care about the quality of life of those with different forms of dementia, and can see their capacities and their sense of life and possibility, not just the ‘deficits’ they experience. It is fantastic to hear about the creative lives that some of the participants and their carers lead. It also makes me think about how many people don’t get to be part of community life if we don’t think particularly about making their participation real and possible, if we don’t find ways to build relationships with them that go beyond the ‘obvious’.
The link below takes you to one of the stories from the blog that I really like. It’s about a guy called Robert from Milwaukee in the US and the difference a story-telling (and dancing) session made to him on the day Romi met him.