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Pottery for those with dementia and their carers

We are proud to be working in partnership with the Alzheimer’s Society to provide creative and supportive learning opportunities for people living with dementia and their carers. The Tuesday pottery group, based at our Derbyshire Eco Centre, has been working with tutor Sue Mulroy since October 2014 and those with dementia, their carers, and the staff and support volunteers working with them have found it a very valuable experience.

Pottery Class

Tutor Sue Mulroy explains how it has been working.

"The targeted pottery group has created a creative, enjoyable and supportive space for those experiencing dementia and their carers. Working with clay helps those with dementia focus on a task, and this can improve concentration and provide a sense of purpose and achievement. The work we do in the class is helpful in improving confidence and self-esteem and the ability to learn new skills gives a different perspective to the deterioration of skills that class members experience as part of dementia. Carers find peer support in the group and as well as being able to share experiences, there is an opportunity to work creatively with the loss and adjustment which is part of the experience of caring for someone with dementia."

Some of the carers in the group felt so strongly about how valuable the experience of being in this group was, that they wrote a piece for the Alzheimer’s Society magazine and sent us a copy. The following is taken from what they wrote:

"The most enjoyable part of Tuesday mornings has been the whole centre working together in support of us. There are 4 groups contributing and learning in different ways to make the whole experience such an enjoyable and positive one. The members of the Eco Centre team have made us welcome from the first week and are always very friendly and helpful which generates the supportive atmosphere so important to us all.
Those of our group living with dementia have thrived on learning new skills and sharing ideas with others. They have been encouraged to focus on tasks and have shown enthusiasm for what they are working on and a sense of achievement after perhaps a long time without that feeling. The course tutor and support assistants (volunteers) have been so good in learning so quickly about dementia and how to support those living with it. They are very sensitive to the differing needs of each of us and are adapting communication and contact skills so that we can all feel good about learning new skills in a friendly place. There is a lot of humour, comfort and calmness as well as purpose and much of this is because of the approach of the staff.
As carers we gain so much. We can enjoy learning new skills in a relaxed, supportive environment. There is a feeling of togetherness and a realisation that we are not on our own in managing difficulties. We have joy, fun and much laughter as we learn knowing that for a while we can relax knowing that caring for others is shared.
We want to say a big thank you to the Alzheimer’s Society for initially setting up the class and for their continued support and also, of course, to all the staff at the Eco Centre for helping to make Tuesday mornings a time we all look forward to."