CSAN launches online dementia and spirituality toolkit

Caritas Social Action Network has partnered with one of its member organisations, Welcome me as I am, to produce an online toolkit on spirituality and dementia.

Since the film ‘It’s still ME Lord’ was released in 2009, interest has grown in the ‘spiritual self’ as dementia advances, and how our Church communities can nurture the spiritual and religious needs of all those whose lives have been touched by dementia. An increasing number of Churches have become involved in the ‘dementia friends’ initiative, enabling those involved in pastoral work and the wider parish to deepen understanding of the experience of dementia.

The new online toolkit is not just about facts and figures, but how to accompany those whose lives have been touched by dementia in their spiritual journey – how to understand and nurture the God-given ‘ME’, and so enable us to deepen the practice of our faith. We use the phrase ‘those whose lives have been touched by dementia’ deliberately, to include the person with dementia, loved ones, friends, and the wider community. This is in contrast to the expression ‘dementia sufferers’ and ‘carers’ – which tends to divide those involved into the ‘haves’ and the ‘have-nots’, more than conveying the equality and reciprocity that are features of good human relationships.

Who is the toolkit for?

  1. Clergy and Deacons
  2. Parish Pastoral Workers
  3. Members of the SVP
  4. Extraordinary Ministers of the Eucharist
  5. Those whose lives are touched by dementia

Content of the toolkit 

  1. ‘Dementia – a Spiritual and Theological Perspective’ – Theological and spiritual issues in understanding and working with dementia and how these link to a positive and person-centred approach to dementia.
  2. Living well with dementia – keeping physically and mentally active, post-diagnostic support and accessing appropriate services. Making our church ‘dementia friendly’.
  3. ‘I need you to minister to me’ – Pastoral support for all those whose lives are touched by dementia, including carers and families. Communication skills and forming relationships as dementia advances. Outreach to residential and nursing homes. Life Story work from a spiritual perspective. This module will be particularly relevant for Pastoral Workers, Volunteers, Ministers of the Eucharist as well as Clergy and Deacons.
  4. ‘The Power of Presence’ – Spiritual accompaniment at the end of life – providing a spiritual dimension to end of life care. Communicating when the power of speech has been lost. Ensuring that spiritual needs are understood and met at the end of life. Listening to and supporting families, friends and loved ones.
  5. ‘No decision about me without me’ – Some legal perspectives covering the Mental Capacity Act and the Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards to consider further in pastoral work.
  6. Resources and information on appropriate services. What is needed for a church community to become ‘dementia friendly’.

A launch event was held on 24th July 2017, with opportunities to learn more about:

  • The dementia friendly communities initiative
  • Types of dementia and diagnosis
  • Communication skills as dementia advances
  • Spiritual accompaniment at the end of life
  • Supporting loved ones and carers
  • Dementia friendly prayer and liturgy

To access the toolkit, sign up here (external website).