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Special production aims to help dementia patients with Sharing Joy

​People with dementia and their carers and families will be given the chance to use music, dance, nostalgia, puppetry and laughter to celebrate life during a special theatre production which will visit Norfolk next month.

Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust has arranged for Vamos Theatre, which is known for its innovative mask productions, to give a performance of “Sharing Joy”, a show specifically for people living with dementia, at the Wymondham Dementia Support Café on 21 June.

The invite-only event will be open to NSFT’s service users and carers, while tickets will also be given to the dementia support café, which is donating use of the venue, and “Come Singing”, which runs 24 groups around Norwich for people with dementia.

The news comes during Dementia Action Week, which runs until Sunday (27 May) and encourages people to make small changes which will make a big difference to people with dementia, such as being patient or offering help if someone looks like they are struggling.

Sharing Joy is set in the 1940s and 1950s, and features courting couples, wartime nurses, a singing dog, and even Elvis himself. It includes music and costumes designed to bring back memories, and encourages the audience to express themselves by singing along, dancing and joining in with the fun.

Its aim is to help people with dementia to connect in alternative ways while boosting their mental, physical health and wellbeing by taking part.

Lisa Breame, Dementia Trainer with NSFT, said: “We are absolutely delighted that Vamos Theatre will be bringing this fantastic production to Wymondham for our service users and their carers to enjoy. Having seen the performance of Sharing Joy, I have become an enthusiastic follower of the theatre’s work. It was the most powerful performance I have witnessed in respect to dementia.

"Nostalgia, culture and the arts can have a really positive impact on dementia care, helping combat social isolation and promoting emotional wellbeing. Sharing Joy encapsulates that by encouraging everyone to take part and enjoy themselves. We are looking forward to welcoming Vamos to Norfolk next month and seeing the reaction our service users and their carers have to the show.”

Rachael Savage, Artistic Director of Vamos Theatre, said: “Sharing Joy is a celebration of life, it’s outrageously fun and we love every minute of it.”

Dianne Fernee, Organiser of the Wymondham Dementia Support Café, said: “Every year we do a pantomime and encourage people with dementia, their carers and families and our volunteers to get together and get involved. Hosting this event is a logical continuation of that work.

“I feel that drama is a great source of relief for people living with dementia and their carers, and helps them to express themselves in a way they would perhaps be unable to otherwise. Its also a very powerful way to share a message about dementia with those who know little about the condition.”

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