Vamos Theatre was recently invited to run a series of six workshops by Chiltern Clinical Commissioning Group (NHS), with the aim of training staff and carers in skills of empathy, trust-building and non-verbal communication.

The Listening with your Eyes workshops were attended by health professionals and independent carers, all connected in some way with people living with dementia. Attendees included GPs, practice nurses, physiotherapists, pharmacists, Clinical Commissioning staff, care home managers, activity coordinators and church group leaders. The exercises in the workshop, focussing on communicating positively and nurturing empathy with those in our care, inspired interesting, insightful and moving discussions amongst the diverse attendees.

Rachel Firth, a GP taking part in one of the workshops told us, “Try not to be rushed, follow cues/body language, remember silence and eye contact. I feel very moved by the experience. Thank you."

Angela agreed with the positive effects of the workshops, saying, “'This workshop brought out the fun in living with dementia. I shall now try to use touch, eye contact, non-verbal communication and tone of voice far more consciously. Honor has taught me to see the human being inside the dementia patient. Thank you."

The workshops were led by our Creative Producer, Honor Hoskins, who was delighted by the positive approach of the participants. She added, “I loved delivering the six LWYE workshops, and even more so when I saw people coming back a second time and bringing new people as they found the workshops so fulfilling and enjoyable. It was interesting to have such a diverse group in the room each time, with unique and varied experiences of dementia, many of whom, by the end of the sessions, were exchanging phone numbers, stories and experiences. This is a workshop that really does connect people, provide new skills and self confidence in our ability to care.”

A big thank you to Chiltern Clinical Commissioning Group for inviting us to run the workshops, in particular to Dr Sian Roberts (lead GP on the CCG for dementia), and Maxine Foster and Deborah West. We hope we can build on such positive work in the future.

Photo: Graeme Braidwood