Christian Charity Launches Resources Effective in Relieving Dementia Symptoms

This World Alzheimer’s Month, Pilgrims’ Friend Society launches its new Brain and Soul Boosting workbook, a psychosocial intervention to strengthen cognition and Christian faith

Today [21st September] on World Alzheimer’s Day, Christian charity Pilgrims’ Friend Society is launching the latest workbook in a psychosocial programme proven to ease the symptoms of dementia.

The Brain and Soul Boosting (BSB) workbook consists of a series of interactive sessions that foster warm relationships, in a themed discourse based on cognitive behavioural principles. Each session follows a carefully planned sequence that sparks discussions and ends with a Bible story. The strong spiritual element helps strengthen participants’ faith as well as cognition. “It looks deceptively simple,” says Louise, “but it works well.”

The workbook was designed initially to help people with early to mid-stage dementia living independently in Royd Court, the charity’s housing scheme in Mirfield, West Yorkshire. Responses were evaluated to scale. Improvements were noted by independent observers in participants’ mood, cognition, speech, attendance at devotions, and levels of anxiety. A bonus was when they were also able to self-navigate back to their own apartments. 

The programme was developed by cognitive behavioural therapist Louise Morse and colleague Janet Jacob, a home manager, and former psychogeriatric nurse. After seeing its effectiveness, they offered it out for trial to a wider public. Louise says, “Feedback was positive. A hospital chaplain told us that the psychiatrist was so intrigued by the improvement in the well-being of patients with dementia that he came to watch the session one day. A former pastor was able to lead prayer again and a Sunday school teacher with speech difficulties sang a praise song. It has been marvellous to receive these testimonies.”

Brain and Soul Boosting is also helping older people without dementia boost their brain power and confidence in a growing number of churches. Pastor Andy Wilcock at Hampden View Church, Sheffield, whose wife Ann Marie has facilitated the sessions, found that news of the sessions spread by word of mouth and people are coming from other churches to take part. He says,

There’s a warmth about it: people who are usually quiet and don’t speak will open up. And people can share something that’s unique to them, from their own life experiences. It builds confidence, and we find that some will engage more in the [separate] Bible studies.

Pastoral leaders Sally Trigg and Jo Dunn of Stapleford Baptist Church, Nottingham have been running groups for several years and help to train others. They say, “In every session we see the topic discussions and activities ‘opening the windows’ on participants’ memories and life experiences. We love the way the themes lead to an encouraging spiritual application: it is a joy to see the boost participants take from this simple but welcome encouragement of their souls.”

A BSB Users’ Group meeting over Zoom is starting on 18th October, at 2.30 pm. More information is available from louise.morse@pilgrimsfriend.org.uk

The workbook is available for purchase, at this webpage:

https://www.pilgrimsfriend.org.uk/resources/brain-soul-boosting-for-seniors

Pilgrims’ Friend Society supports older people in care homes and housing schemes in different parts of the country. It seeks to support and encourage older people to continue to have fulfilling and enjoyable lives both in their homes and housing and through resources such as Brain and Soul Boosting.  

Written by: Priscilla Obilana 

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