The idea of any kind of formal meeting makes Miriam anxious. Clearly we wanted to avoid this, so to anyone else, her circle meeting looked like friends visiting and chatting.

Within the Community Circles process this is the meeting where another facilitator, in this situation Gill, supports the new circle by using a person-centred process, and in this case, as person-centred review. Naturally we needed to do the person-centred review in a way that works for Miriam – just focused conversation, going at her pace, but naturally, informally weaving in the headings we would use with a person-centred review.

When Gill started talking with Miriam about what was going well for her, Miriam explained how she went to church, St James every Sunday, and happily walked there. Out of the corner of my eye I could see Mandy gently shake her head. The last time Miriam went to church was a month ago. This care home, Bruce Lodge, enables people to have two hours a month to be supported by a staff member of their choice to go out and do something that matters to them. Miriam uses her time to go to church, but can only get there once a month. We did n’t challenge Miriam’s reality.  The conversation turns to drinking wine (Miriam loves a dry white, and has one most nights), singing (Miriam used to be in a choir and enjoys a good sing) and gliding (something that she used to do and would love to experience again).

Usually in the Community Circles process the person decides on the purpose of their circle before we get to this meeting. I have been learning that with people living with dementia, this does not work as well. We need to explore together, through a person-centred review or person-centred plan, what it makes sense to focus on together. For Miriam, this could be finding ways to support her to be a greater part of her faith community, going to church more than once a month; looking at taking up singing again, or finding a way to get her into a glider! I asked Miriam, whether she would like to go to Church more, or start singing again.

“I already go to Church each week,” said Miriam, “I don’t want to live there!”.

I asked Mandy what she thought, and together the three of us decided to focus on singing.

We set a date to get together again, and Mandy said that she knew a retired piano teacher and would ask her. My action was to explore local groups, and ‘Singing for the Brain.’

In the pub last night I bumped into an old friend who used to be part of Manchester Community Choir.

“Know any choirs around Stockport”, I asked.  And so it begins, the quest to get Miriam singing again.

Helen Sanderson