We are increasingly aware of those in our church communities living with dementia - the person concerned and also their carers and families. How do we reach out to them, enabling each person to continue in their Christian life and experience, within the church fellowship?
Dementia is a condition about which in society there is a lack of understanding, even misunderstanding, and can be a source of anxiety and fear. Its impact is profound not only for the individual but also their carers, families and friends. A failure within the worshipping community, to demonstrate understanding and to meet needs, can lead to isolation and eventual withdrawal from that community, for the person with dementia and their carer.
What have been our initiatives in Cornwall?
Following a Dementia Action Day in June 2015, the CTC group has sought to extend awareness by delivering to individual churches or groups of churches, a Dementia Friends session together with one which considers the issues for Carers (1hr each)
We are pleased to offer a new session on ‘Being a Dementia Friendly Church'.
We are also promoting a specific model of Pastoral Care. This model aims to encourage and promote identified person/s in each worshipping community or group of churches, a Friendly Face(s), to support the pastoral care needs for people living with dementia. Offering Christian friendship, those identified will take the lead in promoting dementia awareness and in encouraging worshipping communities to become dementia friendly, and actively involved.
The Friendly Face must be supported by the leadership of their Christian group. It is anticipated that the role will be understood and confidence gained through appropriate preparation, as described under the heading ‘Preparing for the role' later in the leaflet.
The aim is that the person living with dementia will feel more confident within their church community thus enabling them to maintain their own faith and practice throughout the duration of the illness. The Friendly Face role has been created as an expression of Christian discipleship. The Friendly Face will seek to draw alongside those living with dementia, and/or affected by it, offering support as appropriate, during church activities, as well as a ‘listening ear'. We stress, however, the need for the Friendly Face to understand the importance of respecting the dignity and integrity of the individual, whilst being aware of the boundaries of the relationship and the safeguarding issues that might arise.
Preparing for the role: The CTC Dementia Action group are recommending four sessions: three, as previously started, plus a session dedicated to the Friendly Face role. It may be that combining these as below will be preferred.
Part 1: Understanding Dementia (2hrs)
Dementia Friends awareness session as devised by the Alzheimer's Society
Exploration of the pressures and issues the disease can present for Carers.
Part 2: Churches and Pastoral Care (2hrs)
Being a ‘Dementia Friendly Church': The content focuses on your church and
considers whether or not there is a need for changes to be made. Changes may
include the environment, attitudes and approaches, and styles of worship.
The Friendly Face role: Exploring appropriate practical, spiritual and enabling
support within church activities but also pastoral visits. Personal boundaries and
safeguarding issues will be considered.
May we remind you:
The four sessions described above provide what we would consider to be essential preparatory material for persons identified to take on the ‘Friendly Face' role. However, Sessions 1 and 2 of part 1 can also be requested separately since they will be of interest to a wider group within the church.
Following these, Session 1 of part 2- ‘Being a Dementia Friendly Church' may be helpful in extending the understanding of dementia related issues for Church leadership and Pastoral Care groups. Session 2 of part 1 builds on the three previous sections to develop an understanding of the ‘Friendly Face' role.
For more information or to arrange sessions as appropriate to your individual church or group of churches, contact:
Christine Todd: firstname.lastname@example.org
Bren Stuart-White: email@example.com
(or any member of the CTC group)
"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future".