By David Jolley
I am not really at ease with modern technology. My mobile phone is just that – voice phone and texts but none of the tricky stuff I can just about do with the laptop of desktop and the internet. I just love being with people for real. It has been the joy of a life in clinical medicine (psychiatry) to be with people, to listen to stories sitting close, sharing smiles and tears, holding hands if this is appropriate. Problems, which might sound to be fearsome, insoluble, destructively dangerous can so often melt in the warmth of shared trust and closeness.
But Zoom has its virtues – we are meeting people – at a distance – we might never have done before. We are saving on time, expense and stress of travel. We remain available at home and in the locality.
I have been privileged to be involved with a number of sessions designed to engage people with dementia and their carers (I qualify as someone organising activities for people with dementia and their carers – it is informative for me and reassuring for others to see a familiar face and hear the voice across this medium). The first venture was a polished series involving music, songs and memories – songs, which pull at your heart strings and reactivate memories, which you love and cherish at the risk of emotions you usually keep quiet.
A second series also uses music and stories from the past and settings, which we have probably shared some time or other. This time there are quizzes – words, pictures, tunes – delivered with friendly unassuming banter. The songs get a bit muddled, but we get through.
What is wonderful is to see the faces come to life as mum with dementia knows the words or gets the answers ahead of carer-daughter. We hear of lives, which began in faraway delivered in an accent which still betrays those origins. And who knows where the original Bull and Bush is located? The gent with long hair and a bushy beard which has rendered him incognito up to now.
And we share all this quite naturally across our matrix of squares. Some with a cuppa to hand.