A Dementia Inclusive Church Guide: Travelling Together
As Dementia Action Week draws to a close, Charlotte Overton-Hart, Livability Dementia Associate, shares reflections on what it means to live with dementia and ways we can work together to to respond to the challenge of dementia.
Each Dementia Action Week sees more people tuning in to the reality of what it means to live with dementia. As we approach the end of Dementia Ation Action Week we are hugely encouraged by early feedback from those churches who have already downloaded Travelling Together, our free practical resource that launched this week, churches who will be using the resource to take their next steps towards dementia inclusion.
It is our hope that as churches engage with the challenge of dementia, both within their church family, as well as in the wider community, the practical aspects of dementia inclusion will be borne out of a refreshed understanding that each person is a unique individual, loved by God.Click here to get your free copy of Travelling Together
Why is the resource needed?
Increasingly dementia is understood to be an acquired disability, but there often remains great stigma around living with the condition. Too often in our society, and even within churches, people living with dementia and those affected by it face barriers that impact their lives and opportunities. One reason for the continuing stigma and barriers is that dementia is sometimes referred to as the ‘disease of identity’, prompting people to ask, ‘Who am I?’ or ‘Who is this person now?’
Who is Travelling Together for?
The guide is intended for a wide audience- offering a great entry point for those considering their first steps in responding to dementia, and also offers some key insights for those further along the road. We would encourage you to share it far and wide. It will help us a great deal if you can forward the download link, rather than the guide itself. This helps us both track the impact of the guide and widen our audience for this important work.
How Travelling Together works
Rather than considering who a person is when they develop dementia, Travelling Together invites churches to engage with this question across the life course. The focus needs to continue to be on the person, rather than their dementia, to recognise the outlook that each person is a unique individual, loved by God, and in turn, by their church family, in practical ways that help to remove barriers and maintain full participation.
While certain aspects of life may become more difficult as a person’s dementia progresses, Travelling Together seeks to offer a strength-based approach and hope-filled outlook within what can be the most difficult chapter of a person’s life.Click here to get your free copy of Travelling Together
How can your church help?
A few small changes within a church context can add up to make a huge difference to the continuing participation of a person living with dementia.
Examples include larger print service sheet, clear signage, or a buddy system that supports people in simple ways like returning to their seat after receiving Communion. Simple questions like ‘What does this person do well? What are they finding tricky? What small changes can help to make life livable, and continued participation possible?’ all add up to helping churches to take their next steps to dementia inclusion.
This guide is the result of running Dementia Inclusive Church workshops around the country for the last three years, and includes information, reflections, and resources that have featured most in those workshops. People often ask about the symptoms of different types of dementia, the theology of dementia, and even what happens if dementia means a person no longer remembers their faith.
It is our hope that whatever point at church is at on their journey towards inclusion, this guide will encourage and inspire every church family to take their next steps, and to keep Travelling Together, alongside those who are living with dementia and affected by it. Whether a church would benefit from an environment audit, refreshing their theology of identity, or making their Sunday services more dementia inclusive, much of the content of Travelling Together will also be applicable for disabled people more broadly, ensuring that everyone feels that church is somewhere not only where they are welcome, but where they belong.
Share your story
As you take your next steps towards dementia inclusion this Dementia Action Week and beyond, we would love to hear your stories of what adds up to a more dementia inclusive church, where everyone is welcome and belongs. Share your story.Click here to get your free copy of Travelling Together