Theatre Company, Spare Tyre, toured residential homes nationally in Autumn 2011, working creatively with older people with dementia to medically benefit participants.
Spare Tyre’s programme 'Once Upon a Time' created a multi-sensory experience to communicate with older people with dementia on their terms. The programme, developed by artists, is believed to have a positive impact medically for the participants.
Spare Tyre partnered with Dr Martin Orrell, Professor of Ageing and Mental Health, University College London in order to collate an evidence base as to the scientific and medical impact of 'Once Upon a Time'.
The programme was piloted at Nightingale House in Wandsworth in Autumn 2010, led by Arti Prashar, Artistic Director of Spare Tyre. During the workshops unsettled or withdrawn participants became calm and happy. Participants with limited verbal communication used lights, objects, sound and words to join in the telling of stories.
Changes in the participant's behaviour were noted after the workshops, such as venturing further in the home than ever before. Alistair Addison of Nightingale House said, ‘This work has the ability to change the culture of how we work with older people with dementia.’
'Once Upon a Time', which toured to residential homes in London, Plymouth and Scotland, consists of hour-long interactive storytelling sessions delivered by Spare Tyre artists. Multi-media projection, light, taste, touch, sound and smell are used to create an immersive environment. Participants take an active part in the sessions, communicating by shining coloured lights, moving to music, and interacting with multimedia projections that respond to clapping and voice.
As part of the programme, staff at the residential homes were supported by Spare Tyre artists to develop their own techniques of communicating in a multi-sensory way, and a person-centred way. With ‘Once Upon a Time’ Spare Tyre hopes to effect change in the sector that works with older people with dementia.