Church service appeals to dementia sufferers

A LAY minister has created special services for dementia sufferers after realising her mum, who has severe Alzheimer’s disease, could still remember prayers and hymns.

Lay pastoral minister Cath Smith, 56, realised traditional worship was still important to her mother Barbara Nuttal, 82, but no-one in her congregation at St Giles’ Church, Desborough, had dementia, so she designed the simplified monthly service.

Mrs Smith, of Millholm Road, Desborough, said: “I realised that there was no-one in our congregation who had dementia and I wondered where they were.

“If 94 per cent of people with dementia are looked after in their own homes, where do they worship?”

The resulting ‘Remember This’ service takes place at 11.15am on the second Wednesday of the month in the Lady Chapel at the church in Lower Street.

It lasts for just 20 minutes and uses the same structure each time, with traditional Bible readings, prayers and hymns and a short reflection.

People come from the community and from care homes.

Mrs Smith said: “We remain seated for the whole service, but understand if people want to get up and wander around.”

There are refreshments afterwards so that people can get to know each other and the carers have time to talk.

A committed team from the church helps to plan and take part in the service.

Mrs Smith, who researched the service as part of her training as a pastoral lay minister, said: “I considered the difficulty of bringing people to church who act differently to ‘the norm’, and how an hour in a crowded church, with lots of words and pieces of paper, may be difficult for some.”

Mrs Smith also carries out services in Desborough care homes Beech Close and Cheany Court, where her mother lives.

Other parishioners offer a service in Hazeland House.