My name is Nodumo Ciliza – Dementia Advisor and Team Leader at BMF
On Friday 15th July we started a new programme for our clients. May be that is not totally correct to say “new”. One of our clients used to come in once every week and spend the morning with us. She is a retired nurse and she would go on rounds in the community with some of our team sharing her knowledge about keeping healthy.
This Friday, however, we hosted a few more clients and their carers at a meeting that we had specifically designed for clients living with dementia. The focus was on engaging the clients and getting to do things with them that they wouldn’t otherwise do on their own.
They started arriving at around 10 am, with their carers on tow. I was a bit nervous as this was my first time to engage in such an exercise even though Zethu and I had done quite a lot of planning and preparation beforehand. Reminiscence therapy was new to me and so you can understand the anxiety. But I was still looking forward to it and excited.
When all three clients had gathered, we dispensed with introductions very quickly and we broke into a song spontaneously. Everyone knew the words and sang their hearts out. This was immediately followed by another one and another one.
After the third one, I jumped in and started a prayer. I knew there’d be enough time for that at the end. After the prayer, I asked them how it had been in Lamontville in the 60’s and 70’s. Having grown up elsewhere and moving to Lamontville after getting married, I’d never really got to know about the town that was now my home. My children were born here but I never really took time to find out the historical significance of Lamontville. Little did I know, that this town had a “history” behind it.
All three of them shared the platform and talked about things that I had never heard about. They shared stories about the life in Lamontville in the 60’s and 70’s and how Lamontville was considered different from all other “locations” because of its proximity to the city. They talked about what was expected of them as young girls then and how they looked after themselves in a fast changing environment evolving culture that included African, Western, Asian and American cultures.
Before I knew it, our allocated two hour session was over. But something had happened to my clients. They were as excited about this session as I had been. Their faces were bright and they wanted to go on. They said they felt really good talking about the past and things that they were in touch with.
They shared jokes and stories and it wasn’t until after another hour had gone by that they all eventually left. They all promised to attend the next session.
Indeed they came. We had originally intended it to be a once a month programme, but it has become so popular that we meet every week.