We spend a lot of time considering the right articles to put in every single one of The Daily Sparkles. Our company slogan is ‘Happy Memories’ and it’s very important to us that we don’t bring up difficult or challenging topics for people. But sometimes, finding that balance, can be tricky.
It’s really important to us that, while we try not to bring up unhappy or distressing memories or topics with residents, that we don't dumb down for them either. Keeping their minds stimulated is so important, and especially so for those who worked in academic fields where mental agility was a key part of their day to day life.
Of course, it's essential that we stick to the positives, but in the same way, we don’t want to limit the capabilities of our readers, or short-change them by missing things out that they may consider both important and memorable. Recently, one of our readers commented on the more negative aspects of an article that we ran about a notorious prison break. He felt that the topic was an upsetting one, which his residents did not enjoy.
We spent some time talking to our writing team about this issue and gathering their thoughts. One of our writers, Liz says: “When I’m planning, I try to look at the balance of articles during the week and make sure we’re not giving people a diet of celebrity birthdays only. To ensure we keep The Daily Sparkle interesting enough for people in the early stages of dementia, we do need to have some articles that stimulate their cognitive abilities.”
This is an important point – we believe strongly in the power of daily activities and diversions, in fact, The Daily Sparkle was specifically designed as a reaction to what we felt was a lack of stimulation for those people living with dementia. We wanted to provide something that was a daily dose of fun, interesting and enjoyable content.
Liz adds: “It’s important to think about how we understand the 'feel-good factor'. It isn't as simplistic as being only about warm cosy things. For some people, especially those who identified themselves as people who took an interest in the world around them, bought newspapers and were academics or avid readers, to be reminded of historical moments, political figures and world events that were very familiar to them, is helping them to retain something of their unique personhood.”
This concept of helping people to retain the key parts of their lives and personality is very important. And, with this generation, is particularly important for men with dementia, who in their younger lives may have seen themselves as powerful, capable and masculine. “They need to have opportunities to express opinions about things that are more male-orientated than the more ‘showbiz’ articles usually provide” says Liz.
We obviously consider all our readers important, and wouldn’t ever wish for them to be upset, however, it is also important for us to have perspective. In the case of this particular article, while it did cover a group of people breaking out of a notorious prison, overpowering prison officers, and not being found – we were careful with how we presented the information and made sure that in the Carers Notes, the questions were more about the news in general, where people were when they got the news, and which newspapers they bought. We try with topics like this to use the story as a jumping off point for a larger discussion, one of the key goals of The Daily Sparkle - to get people talking.
We pride ourselves on providing 'informative' content that covers a myriad of topics throughout history. Our Trustpilot feedback, refers constantly to our 'interesting' content, and we receive regular comments to the effect that it has given activity coordinators and other staff more knowledge to stimulate conversation and increase their understanding of the world Daily Sparkle readers lived in during their earlier years. As always, it’s about the perfect balance between dramatic and distressing, and safe and stimulating. We always, always aim for the latter.
We welcome all feedback from our readers, so please keep sharing your thoughts and ideas and suggestions with us, while we continue to find the balance for each article we publish.
This article previously appeared on The Daily Sparkle blog.