In the 29th August edition of ‘The Tablet’, there is an excellent interview with Fr Michael McCarthy, our own local poet-priest, focusing on his eagerly awaited third collection of poems, The Healing Station. This is the fruit of a three-month creative writing post in the Adelaide and Meath Hospital in Dublin, working with acute stroke and dementia patients. As the article concludes, dementia is reaching epidemic proportions and none of us can afford to ignore it. There is a growing awareness in many parishes of the challenges this poses and people are beginning to ask the question “How can we make our churches more dementia-friendly, more inclusive?” All too often, people with dementia and their families become excluded and marginalised.
An upcoming event organised by Growing Old Grace-fully will provide an opportunity to hear more about Fr Michael’s writing and his experience of working with people with dementia and their carers in hospital, and in his life as a parish priest.
On Saturday 12th September at St Aidan’s Parish Hall, 31 Baildon Road, Shipley BD17 6AQ, Growing Old Grace-fully is holding a day on dementia: “Welcoming People with Dementia”. This day is intended for all those involved with caring for or ministering to people with dementia. Eucharistic Ministers or SVP members wanting to learn more about dementia and how to make a visit to someone with dementia easier and more meaningful for both parties will find this day very helpful. Liturgists too may find this useful for planning prayers and services which people with dementia might attend.
Fr Michael is speaking alongside Rev. Gaynor Hammond, a Baptist Minister, who has encouraged churches to become more dementia friendly and has written a number of books full of practical ideas to help parishes, including “Help, We have Dementia!” and “Growing Dementia-Friendly Churches.”