Dementia is now the biggest cause of death in England and Wales. At E.ON, we realise the impact the condition can have on people’s lives, and our employees chose Alzheimer’s Society as our charity partner earlier this year. We want to do what we can to help vulnerable people, including people with dementia.
Dementia can be really overwhelming, not only for the people it affects, but also for their friends and families. Everyday activities can become very challenging. Even a trip to the cinema can be disorientating and confusing.
So through our partnership with Sky Cinema we organised a fun day out for people living with dementia and their carers, and to help raise awareness about what it’s like living with the condition. With the help of Alzheimer’s Society, we adapted the Sky Cinema Movie Bus to make it dementia friendly, and chose a film we knew people coming along would enjoy.
In November, we held a special screening of Mamma Mia! in the Sky Cinema Bus as our first event to support Alzheimer’s Society. Why Mamma Mia!? What was dementia friendly about the bus? And did we really get people dancing in the aisles? Read on to find out the answers to all these questions and more.
So how can films help?
Dealing with memory loss can be an upsetting experience, but films often help spark memories and conversation as they evoke strong feelings from the past.
So with the help of Alzheimer’s Society, we asked a group of people living with dementia to tell us their favourite films. We found that musicals were popular as they’re often upbeat, inspiring positive feelings in people who may feel confused or lonely. Music is also easier for people living with dementia to recall, helping them follow actions and events.
That’s why Mamma Mia! was the natural choice for our first screening. We knew that the smash hit movie would offer the feel-good factor that would be perfect for our audience.
How did we make sure the Sky Cinema Movie Bus was dementia friendly?
Leaving the house can be a stressful experience for people with dementia. At the cinema, normal film screenings can be too loud, dark and disorientating. So we adapted the mobile Sky Cinema Movie Bus for our audience.
We used extra lighting and provided clear signs to make it as easy as possible for people to find what they wanted. The volume was lowered to make it a more comfortable and relaxed experience for the audience.
So what did people actually make of the experience?
They loved it. Mamma Mia! was a hit, getting the audience to sing along and even dance in the aisles. Indeed one volunteer from Alzheimer’s Society remarked just how great it was that people with dementia were able to “carry on living well, doing the things they enjoy”. The atmosphere was happy, and it was wonderful to see so many smiles.
After the screening, many of the audience shared with us how much they enjoyed the event. Take a look at our video from the day to see the Sky Cinema Movie Bus in action and check out what other people had to say.
What else is happening?
This is just the start of our charity partnership with Alzheimer’s Society and there is plenty more to come. If you’d like to know more about our partnership take a look at our website.
We’re offering advice on how we can help if you’re caring for someone with dementia. And we’re supporting our colleagues to become Dementia Friends, so they can actively help people with dementia in their communities. Becoming a Dementia Friend helps you learn about dementia and what you can do to help, from volunteering to campaigning – and anyone can register.
For further advice and guidance on how to support someone living with dementia, please visit the Alzheimer’s Society.