Follow the star

Dementia Friendly Carol Service 2019

Friday the 13th December saw the 5th Dementia Friendly Carol Service in Middlesbrough.

It was held at the Salvation Army Citadel at Southfield Rd and was attended by around 50-60 people living with dementia who enjoyed singing carols to that wonderful sound of the Salvation Army brass band.

The service was led by the Revd. Jen Croft with the theme of “Follow the Star.” The service was very visual with a giant gold star, people from the congregation carried the gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh to the crib, some chose to wear crowns depicting the wise men.

There were moments of very deep reflection and lots of humour with short bursts of carols and short readings by people living with dementia.

There was a talk during the service where people shared their experiences and early memories of Christmas and what it meant to them.

All those basic needs of inclusion identity, attachment, comfort and meaningful activity were met. This helped people to participate and respond to the service in their own way:

Someone who is advanced along their dementia journey stood up, clapped and said “lovely, lovely, it’s wondrous.”

One gentleman when given eye contact and a cue with song, sang every word of the carols and joined in the prayers. It came to light he had been a lay minister. His family were delighted with his interaction.

People had a choice of following a program or simply joining in without, and had a lovely gift of a knitted tactile star to take home. Everyone retired to share fellowship, tea, cakes sandwiches where everyone chatted about their experiences and supported each other with their current issues.

Thank you to the Mindful music group at Thorntree for funding the event and the small team of organisers and helpers.

Thank you for the knitters who sent in the stars and to our hosts, The Salvation Army.

Lesley Tart