Pop-up theatre helps patients and families

Dr Kim Brown, left, with Ken Malcolm and Sylvia Cox (151234-1)
Dr Kim Brown, left, with Ken Malcolm and Sylvia Cox (151234-1)

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IT REUNITES dementia patients with senses they may have forgotten they could use.

A pop-up ‘theatre’ has different activities inside it geared towards helping people reconnect with touch, taste, smell, sight and hearing.

It is run by Dr Kim Brown, who was awarded £10,000 by the Portsmouth Clinical Commissioning Group, to run a nature therapy and dementia course for 30 people with dementia and around 150 of their families and friends.

It has now won another £10,000 – this time from The Big Lottery – as a result of the work already carried out.

Dr Brown said: ‘Dementia is not just about fragmentation of the memory and language. It also affects all of our senses. We rely on our senses to process external information from the world around us, but with dementia, the ability to sense the world is diminished.

‘As dementia progresses, changes take place in how the world is seen, heard, smells, feels and tastes.

‘This can lead to sensory deprivation resulting in extreme social isolation for the individual concerned.

‘Sensory deprivation can rapidly lead to aggression, agitation, hallucinations, depression, withdrawal and poor sleep patterns.

‘People with dementia are unable to process sensory information in the same way they did previously. However this is little understood, so our projects are aimed at furthering understanding of the changes that can and do take place.’

Dementia residents at Sydenham Court, in Belmore Road, Fratton, were given a chance to use the theatre.

A room was set up with five tables that each had items to help invigorate different senses. This included musical instruments for sound, scented oils for smell and a bubble machine for sight.

Dr Brown said: ‘The pop-up theatre is a totally new way for participants, such as carers, to understand more about the changes in sensory perception that take place in conditions such as dementia.

‘It contains five sensory portals, one for each sense, where participants learn a little more about how dementia impacts on that particular sense and they get some hands-on experience on what that might feel like.’

Dr Jim Hogan, lead of the Portsmouth CCG, said: ‘Improving dementia diagnoses rates is one of our top priorities.

‘We will watch the development of the pop-up theatre with interest, while wishing them every success with this pioneering approach.’