I have written a few times about Mother’s positive response when I read to her, particularly when I read poetry.
When she first moved into the very sheltered housing scheme years ago, I was asked what sort of things she enjoyed. I said then that she liked to be read to, and suggested some of the books on her shelves; mainly ones about animals; The Owl and the Pussycat; but also the Bible.
But in those three years no member of staff has read to her; and when I have suggested more recently that they could read her poems, they have shied away as though I were suggesting something weird and dangerous.
So, I have come to understand that most of the staff, maybe all, are not confident about reading aloud. I suppose I could leave it at that, but this is after all something that benefits my mother, who will soon be 91 and so I have tried to come up with other solutions. I suggested that they could look for someone who would be happy to read poetry to a group of residents; maybe a performance poet. There was no response, so I asked again.
I got an answer the other day from the new manager saying the tenants were ‘against this idea’, which led me to believe she too is not comfortable about reading aloud. The word ‘against’ seemed very strong and inappropriate. I do wonder how residents were approached, and what they thought they were being offered.
I guessed that Mother was not the only person living with dementia who responds to verse. Oliver Sacks’ book didn’t help, nor did any of the other books and leaflets I have accumulated on dementia. Maybe there had been studies; something which could demonstrate to the manager that I’m not just a pushy relative (I am, but this is about my mother after all, and I don’t know anyone else who is fighting her corner in this way), but there’s something in this that would help her to do her job more effectively, and benefit other residents, with or without dementia.
I surfed. And found. The Reading Organisation has been holding reading groups in care homes for four years. The work they are doing is making a real difference to people like my mother, and what I read on their pages made me determined to pursue my efforts to get the manager to reconsider.
Read it here yourself, and see what you think.#mce_temp_url#
They are also publishing a book this week called A Little, Aloud, which is described as an anthology of prose and poetry for reading aloud to someone you care for.
I’ve just ordered my copy.