By conducting interviews with people from a range of religious backgrounds, the research investigated the methods different pastoral workers use to enable people with dementia to be treated as persons. Among those interviewed were hospital chaplains, Christian parish ministers, a Buddhist care worker and the manager of the day care centre at the Glasgow Central Mosque.
Some of the ideas they proposed included: connecting to somebody’s life story, using day trips to the countryside as a stimulus for conversation, thinking about the details of somebody’s life such as where they shop or what their career was and the power of being truly present with someone.
This project culminated in the production of a pamphlet which presents the insights of the interviewees alongside some information about what dementia is. The aim was to make the ideas which I had come across in my research more accessible to a wider audience and to move beyond the stereotype of dementia as a solely negative experience.
This project afforded insight into the diversity of human experience and allowed me to hear the stories of people rather than just reading them on the page. I consequently have a fuller understanding of the idea that there is not a ‘one size fits all’ model for pastoral care but a rich and varied engagement with the lives of people.
Rebekah’s internship was supervised by Dr Eric Stoddart under the University’s Undergraduate Internship Scheme over the summer of 2013.