The power of storytelling

Storytelling is a vital and treasured part of many people’s lives; from fairy tales as a child, to swapping weekend stories with colleagues, the ability to spin a tale is embedded in our connection with the people around us. This is no different for people living with a dementia diagnosis, and their carers.

In 2012 Windrose Rural Media Trust and Amanda Boyd recognised how important the art of storytelling was, and how difficult it can be for people living with dementia to engage with it. Recognising the power of arts-based interventions for people living with dementia, Amanda began to combine the use Windrose’s film archive and folk songs in an interactive session for people living with dementia and Alzheimer’s.

The use of folk songs and films quickly became a powerful tool for storytelling, allowing session members to engage with either medium and continue to follow the story. The film and folk song followed the same story, allowing participants to access either or both platforms.

Amanda Boyd

Knowing how isolating a dementia diagnosis can be, the interactive sessions provide vital shared communication and social interaction, stimulating powerful memories and emotions. Social sessions like this are really well suited to memory café settings, dementia cinemas, discussion groups, day centres and care homes. Amanda has worked in a number of these settings with great success and Amanda and Windrose are in partnership with Alzheimer’s Support Wiltshire as part of Windrose’s Heritage Lottery Funded ‘A Century of Sights and Sounds.’

Sessions like this are a really important part of the musical map and arts-based provision for people living with dementia. Amanda’s use of folk songs is strongly inspired by the BBC school broadcast ‘Singing Together’, a programme that began in the 1930s which resonates with many of the people attending her sessions.

Amanda’s work benefits so many of the people she comes into contact with and we would encourage others to think outside the (musical) box like this and provide engaging activities for your communities.

Click on the video below to hear Amanda’s beautiful voice.