Lichfield Cathedral has recently joined 94 other churches in our diocese that our recognised with a Dementia-Friendly Church Certificate signed by the Bishop of Lichfield. This significant landmark give us an opportunity to explore the action which the cathedral has already taken – and the plans, going forwards.
For the cathedral, as for all our churches, the certificate recognises that we are 'becoming dementia-friendly church': it’s not a destination, it’s a direction of travel. So it doesn’t mean that 'we’ve got everything right', but it does mean that we are taking action on dementia and we are willing to learn and change together. The certificate sets out three actions on dementia that are planned for the next twelve months – and the expectation is that the certificate will be renewed at that stage, setting out a further the actions to take in the following year. Our aim to become a community where people affected by dementia – both someone with a diagnosis and their carers - are welcomed, understood, respected and supported, confident they can contribute to church / community life.
What’s been happening in the last 12 months?
- A small focus group of congregation members met six times on dementia.
- Four Dementia Friends sessions have been held, using the social action movement run by Alzheimer’s Society to increase understanding about dementia and to turn understanding into action. There have been 85 participants from across the cathedral community of staff, volunteers and congregation.
- A four-session Dementia Friendly Church training course has been held, attended by various members of the cathedral community.
- The dementia-themed play, The Disappearance of Eliza Grey, was performed after a Sunday morning service.
- In Dementia Action Week in May, the cathedral held a dementia-friendly 'Boats and Staying Afloat' service, welcoming people living with dementia, including some living in local residential homes.
Looking forward, the cathedral is planning to take action in three areas. If you would like to take steps in your own church to become more dementia-friendly, you could chose to identify a 'next step' in each of these three areas:
- Raising awareness and increasing understanding: As well as listening to “the experts”, people with lived experience of dementia, and naming dementia in prayers, preaching and notices, dementia training will continue to be offered to staff and volunteers.
- Adapting and adopting dementia-friendly practices: The Cathedral is planning to include graphics in service sheets, to “signpost” in a visual form different parts of worship, like Bible, reading, prayers and hymns. Also, the cathedral is going to explore other possible actions, including holding other services with a dementia focus, displaying notices about dementia and building links with local residential homes and care providers.
- Engaging with the congregation and with the dementia-friendly community: A team of Dementia Coordinators is being appointed. That team will link in with the Diocesan dementia-friendly churches network and also make community links in Lichfield, promoting local activities with a dementia focus.
Canon David Primrose has been involved in the dementia friendly church movement across the diocese for over ten years. He knows how “a commitment to include those impacted by dementia becomes a source of blessing for the whole church community.”
The last word goes to some of the people who shared the recent Boats and Staying Afloat dementia-friendly service in Dementia Action Week. One person, closely impacted by dementia, found the service “really helped, enjoyed it” and would “love to come again”: it “helped to deal with the feelings of losing my husband”. Others, living with dementia, recognised, “I do believe the service was said from the heart” and loved “being in the cathedral again” and “just being here”.
If you’d like to discuss anything from this blog post, now or at any stage, you are welcome to get in touch with me, Sarah Thorpe, on 07982 248949 or firstname.lastname@example.org.