I attended a seminar on aspects of Spirituality in Dementia Care and emerged with an incredible sense of déjà vu. The sentiments being expressed and the information offered virtually replicated the things being discussed almost 20 years ago when I undertook a multi-disciplinary Diploma in Palliative Care. There was the impression, from today's seminar that Dementia Care is only now at the stage that Palliative Care was then. I'm sure that that is not the case. Rather, like Palliative Care, the standard of care varies from place to place and from setting to setting with many examples of good practice and not so good practice.
Whilst the notion of living well with a diagnosis of dementia was mentioned briefly at the beginning of the seminar, the focus seemed to be on end of life care. That, too, mirrored the training I undertook in Palliative Care where the focus tended to be on Hospice care and on " a good death" rather than on the early stages following diagnosis. And perhaps that is necessary in the early days of gathering evidence and drawing up policies. One has to almost work backwards - being assured of quality care will encourage folk to seek intervention at an earlier stage and so on.
However, one phrase that caught my imagination today was the notion that, as spiritual care givers, we might be involved in "holding the memories" for others. That seems to me to connect well with the feeling that I have often of "holding the faith" for others, who are unable because of the stage they are at in life or because of their life experience to subscribe to faith for themselves. Custodians of faith and of memories seems to me to be a sacred calling.
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