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Robert Parker

Studies In Ageing And Dementia

This book is a pleasure to read. In over forty thumbnail sketches it combines simple human stories with important questions about the meaning of life and death, and the ways in which people suffering from dementia are treated.
Robert and I have been friends since we trained together for the Anglican priesthood. When he moved from parish ministry into caring for people at the end of life, he took with him his immense personal energy, his Christian principles and his pastoral heart. Three things shine from these pages:
• The conviction that we are children of God with deep spiritual needs right to the end of our lives.
• The pastoral instinct that the whole person is still there beneath the ravages of dementia.
• The personal generosity which inspires Robert to spend quality time with each one, and to insist that
they are treated with kindness and simple humanity as well as professional competence.
Particularly important is the emphasis on “triggers”: words and actions which can spark off negative and even violent reactions in persons with dementia, and which families and care home staff need to avoid. But the book characteristically recommends a far greater number of positive triggers which, by contrast, can create moments of spontaneous delight, happy memories and spiritual insight. These include music, acts of worship with familiar prayers and choruses, reminiscence boxes, bingo and other games, letting residents help with chores, and even taking them train excursions and cycle rides.
The investment and staffing ratios evident in Robert's care homes tend to confine this quality of care to the sort of professional people whose stories are told in this book. The major challenge facing Britain's struggling care sector is to make these standards available to the have-nots as well the haves. This book deserves to be widely read, to create in all of us the vision of what is possible and the generosity and political will to make it happen.
Bishop Michael Bourke ( Bishop of Wolverhampton, retired)
182 printed pages
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