Dementia Awareness Week 2021
Capital Theatres prides itself for being at the forefront of performing arts provision for people living with dementia, their loved ones and carers. But how has this changed over the past year?
Here's how Capital Theatres has successfully adapted its Dementia Friendly Programme to be accessible to some of the most vulnerable people in our society, during the uncertain and isolating period of the Covid Pandemic:
When The Sun Meets The Sky
Produced in association with the Traverse Theatre, When the Sun Meets the Sky is a radio play shaped by personal stories from people with lived experience of dementia in Edinburgh and the Lothians. The play is a collaboration between Capital Theatres and the Traverse Theatre and is written and directed by Robbie Gordon and Jack Nurse with experts from our dementia friendly community.
Set in iconic Edinburgh locations - from summertime in the Meadows after the war, to a Beatles gig in the ABC on Lothian Road, Christmastime on the Mound in the 80s and ending up in the Port O’Leith after the turn of the millennium, When The Sun Meets The Sky tracks Maggie through the decades as she discovers herself, her city and tries to get to the bottom of a mystery that’s eluded her since childhood.
The Satellites is a performance company for people living with dementia, their loved ones and their carers. Participants are invited to collaborate with professional artists from Tricky Hat Productions and together they co-create a multi-media performance that explores people's experiences, hopes and dreams.
The collaboration will be exclusively digital to comply with COVID-19 government guidelines. A final film will be created out of all participant’s contributions.
Weekly sessions have taken place on Zoom, with group sizes kept small so that participants feel comfortable when taking part and sessions are supported and monitored by the creative engagement team to ensure a positive online experience.
Zoom with a View
Zoom With A View is a 12-week heritage reminiscence project for people living with dementia, their loved ones and carers. It is a safe and supportive online space to explore broad themes around Theatre - Past, Present and Future, and to provide an opportunity to express themselves through a variety of creative forms, such as writing, singing, song-writing and visual art.
The weekly project is keeping us connected online across houses and care homes in the Lothians, Glasgow and Crieff, and empowering people to share their creativity and express their views and memories of theatre trips, famous stars, treading the boards and much more.
We will also hope to come together in person when restrictions allow to celebrate everyones contributions through a small gallery exhibition and sharing event in our Studio at the Festival Theatre. There will be an afternoon tea event for family and friends and an opportunity to meet the artists and each other in person.
Sundown Stories is a series of short stories adapted for film for anyone who might enjoy a calming and relaxing story. The stories, written by and for people living with dementia, are delivered in a calming environment, a gentle pace and soothing tone.
The aim is that these stories will be relaxing for those experiencing anxiety or distress that is associated with the phenomenon of Sundowning or anyone who enjoys at relaxing tale at bedtime.
The project is delivered in collaboration with residents, carers and staff from Crossreach - The Elms Nursing Home, Sharing a Story CIC and Dunbar Dementia Carers Group.
Tea and Jam
In the last year, Tea and Jam, our usual monthly celebration of music-making and talent sharing moved online. Participants of all ages joined us for our monthly Zoom event with their singing voices and instruments ready. Gently led by professional musician Gus Harrower, people are encouraged to jam along with him and share their own musical talents with everyone.
We've also introduced a quarterly song-writing special where people can join Gus and Alex and create a song together on a chosen theme. This is recorded for people to enjoy afterwards.
This week, we held Tea & Jam Songwriting Special picking up the Dementia Awareness Week themes of keeping connected and innovation by writing a song based on "What’s your ideal day? What helps us through?"
Contactless Afternoon Tea
Our well-loved monthly Tea Parties have entertained residents in care homes and other people living with dementia for some time now, so we were thrilled to be able to take these online. We invited participants to grab a cuppa, their favourite sarnie or a scone, and to join us on YouTube for a nice sing-a-long and some dancing.
Every month we have shared a concert by different musicians and bands: Gus Harrower, The Randolfi Singers, the Capital Theatres House Band and more. In the last 14 months, we have provided 840 afternoon teas and posted 980 DVD performances across Edinburgh, the Lothians and beyond.
A Brew and a Blether
Bi-monthly A Brew and a Blether sessions are a drop-in chat to just be together and see some friendly faces.
Laid back and very informal, we invited people living with dementia, their families and carers to grab a cuppa and chat with us on Zoom. This has been a great way to connect, hear how others are doing and how we are finding support through this time.
We have adapted our usual drop-in sessions during the pandemic to include virtual trips. In the last 14 months, we 'visited' Biggar Puppet Theatre, joined together with West Highlands Dementia Cafe to go on a virtual music tour of Scotland and even went on a tour with guides from The Real Mary Kings Close. We also kept fit with visits from Scottish Ballet, Edinburgh Leisure and Yoga Moments and kept our vocal chords oiled with singalong entertainment by local musicians.
Recently, we've started producing our Dementiarts newsletter again, with the help of Alex. You can read a summary of our current projects, as well as submissions from our dementia-friendly community. Find the most recent edition here.
How to get involved
If any of these projects sound like something that would benefit either you, or someone you know, please don't hesitate to get in touch with Dawn Irvine.