|Doreen's moustache March 2013|
We've been using lateral thinking methods for our workshops. Reminiscence tends to work along certain lines and themes with the outcomes reduced to safe bits of nostalgia.
We've found that bringing off-the-wall thinking to the workshops keeps things interesting for us and for the participants. It's also a way for people to express their opinions, make their mark. Lives and history don't necessarily fit into neat little boxes. What we're trying to do is find the personal, the individual stories that weave into a broader tale. That is what makes for good art an it is also what makes for insightful history too – the retelling of the familiar, the finding of new meanings.
|'nibbling apples' Rosemary March 2013|
In the morning and afternoon, we played a word association game. Playing takes pressure off, asking questions like 'What's the first thing that comes to mind?' dodges people's fear of not being able to remember. Avoiding approaches that make a closed success/failure outcome is a good policy. There's no right or wrong if the whole thing is done in the spirit of play and a joke. Word association can bring a great focus because it's so immediate. Not so long sentences or circuitous openers or complex questions. Our group of people with dementias were fully engaged – leaning in concentrating, waiting on the next word...
Here's some of the material from the word associations:
you can have my teeth
they're falling out all the time
under the carpet
under the rug
put salt with em
otherwise the fairy can't
a threpenny, don't spend it all at once
screw it in permanent
collecting coins for a mouthful
a farthing a wren
a sixpence a tanner
the old bob with the old king on it shiny
to pay the dentist
(group poem, extract)
Make a simple templates based on dentists' teeth charts (see above). Participants write a letter into each tooth, spelling out first the name of a favourite sweet and then a dentist-related word, alternating them until all the teeth are 'filled'. It's a word game, a little like doing a crossword, which can bring poetic results.