Tuesday, 27 November 2012


The media is full of the anger and rage that is felt in Greece with the savage cutbacks and austerity measures. Certainly I came across road barriers on 17 November as being revolution day they expected demonstrations.  The cuts continue and are deep.

However no one seems to be acknowledging the very deep sadness in Greece, the despair and feelings of loss. Greek people have lost not only their jobs, businesses, houses, possessions and life-style, but also their belief. Belief in the world, especially Greece, being a good place to live, that bought deep satisfaction through culture, arts and a living legacy of the good things from the past brought into the present.

At a recent workshop I used the theme of The Quest - going on a journey, meeting with danger, finding the treasure, and returning to tell my story.  Usually the meeting with danger is facing the shadow or the monstrous, but the collective response was deep deep sorrow, as people chanted and danced lamentations and grief.  It was very moving for everyone and took us on another journey.

The play's the thing....

Thursday, 15 November 2012

Life after Winston...

The impact of a Winston Churchill Fellowship continues to make an impression on me and my developing work.  It is a continuing process, and every few days there is a 'ping' as another insight slots into place.

The extraordinary resilience of the people I met is very inspiring.  Despite the many difficulties in different countries, especially the challenge of changing attitudes towards elderly people, and the low priority given in government budgets, nevertheless there was amazing artistic work taking place and a fundamental attitude of real care.

In Malaysia and Romania I was most impressed by the sense of 'network' - nobody was working in isolation, even though there was a shortage of funds; there was a developed sense of community and people supported each other.  Many projects were carried out in memory of a relative with dementia who had died, and families were very happy to see their loved one's name being carried on.  

The UK can learn a lot from programmes overseas, and rediscover local networks of support.  There is far less chance of abuse and neglect in an environment where people have time to take an interest and visit.  

I recommend Winston!  It has certainly helped me stop in my tracks, and give practice and programmes a new appraisal!  (Winston Churchill Memorial Trust)

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Creative Care and Playful Dementia

I have been pestering people about the importance of understanding attachment and playfulness with older people: especially with  those people who have dementia.  At last, at last I have been heard!

The British Association of Play Therapists who publish a magazine have asked me to write their lead article about play with older people.  My excitement is growing as I realise what a break through this is.  Most people regard play therapy as an intervention with the very young who have troubled or muddled lives.  What is important to realise is that older people also have troubles and muddles, often being disrupted from their home with perhaps a few of their possessions.  They are placed in a care home that is usually not of their own choice, and join the invisibles.

Furthemore, Musack will not satisfy people with a deep knowledge of classical music or who enjoy literature or plays, for example.  Many care homes now have activity organisers who arrange programmes every week, from keep fit to bingo, all of which is fine.  However, what about the people who do not enjoy activities, who are used to a different kind of cultural life, and who have skills and  experience, such as being able to play the piano?

As I write this article I realise that I have too much to say!  Maybe I feel a book coming on...