‘The spark will ignite’: how poetry helps engage people with dementia

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‘The spark will ignite’: how poetry helps engage people with dementia

Shared reading has a significant impact on mood, concentration and social interaction. A Liverpool charity is running sessions in care homes.

Stephanie Brada reads the Henry Charles Beeching poem Going Down Hill on a Bicycle to a group of residents at a care home. They read along with her, some mouthing the words, others silently following the print-outs on their laps.

“Michael, did you ever have a bike?” Brada asks one of the men sitting across from her.

“Yes,” he replies. “I rode it to work.”

This might be unremarkable in another setting, but the 10 participants of this reading group at Stapely care home in Liverpool all have dementia. Moments of clarity can be rare. After some discussion of bicycles and riding down hills, another poem is read – My Grandmother’s African Grey by Matt Simpson. Unprompted, another resident starts talking about her grandparents’ parrot.

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