Channel 4 TV Series Highlight the Value of Work to People with Dementia

A new four-part series broadcast by Channel 4 has highlighted the value of continuing to work, for people living with the dementia. The Restaurant That Makes Mistakes follows Michelin-starred chef Josh Eggleston as he opens a pop-up restaurant in Bristol with the help of 14 people with dementia who work in a variety of roles within the fledgling business.

The participants range from a former gynaecologist who can no longer remember her age to a 23-year old diagnosed with Pick’s disease, still coming to terms with the loss of his mother to the same condition. The friendships that develop throughout the series and the confidence boost that working on a shared project delivered to those involved, highlight how people with dementia can continue to benefit from purposeful activity, even as their abilities decline.

Jeremy Hughes, chief executive at Alzheimer’s Society, said: “The Restaurant That Makes Mistakes is a ground-breaking initiative, challenging stigma and misconceptions about dementia, showing that with the right support and small adjustments, many people with dementia can continue to contribute and be valued members of their communities.

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) defines meaningful activity as any “physical, social and leisure activities that are tailored to the person’s needs and preferences. Activity can range from activities of daily living such as dressing, eating and washing, to leisure activities such as reading, gardening, arts and crafts, conversation, and singing.

This definition demonstrates just how wide ranging the type of activities that you offer can be but places the emphasis much more on “doing with” rather than “doing for”. Start by looking at the strengths and interests of your service users and you might be surprised at how much you can achieve together.

Would Your Service Users Enjoy the Opportunity to Work? Try Our 4 Suggestions for a More Purposeful Life:

  1. Food preparation: For many older people, preparing their own meals will have been a daily task carried out throughout their lives which only came to an end on admission to a care home. Being able to use these skills can boost self-esteem and give a feeling of usefulness and some care homes have successfully set up groups of service users to help with tasks such as preparation of fruit and vegetables or making of sandwiches. Even something as simple as helping to set tables can give a sense of purpose.
  2. Helping in the Garden: Although heavier tasks may be impractical, small jobs such as watering plants, planting bulbs or sweeping leaves may all be possible for your service users. Any of these tasks can help create a feeling of contributing to life in the care home as well as being a good form of exercise.
  3. Daily Housekeeping: Every care home has a whole range of daily housekeeping tasks to be carried out, from putting away linen to dusting and tidying. More physically able service users may welcome the opportunity to play a part in keeping their own living space clean and tidy or may even enjoy helping with other tasks around the care home.

Maintenance Tasks: Simple maintenance jobs such as painting, sanding or pumping up wheelchair tyres can offer a service user with an interest in DIY the opportunity to put their skills to use and feel valued. You may even find that you have service users who have worked in specialist trades such as carpentry or decorating who are able to share their knowledge with others.