Parea is a process-driven Applied Theatre project informed by the lived experience of caring for a family member with Dementia and Parkinson’s.

Confronting these neurological conditions as a family carer, one can never be fully prepared, and there is a great strength, patience and acceptance needed to deal with and process the change in circumstances. But how can we also live and enjoy each moment with our family newly inside these unexpected circumstances?

The idea of “playing” in a care environment evolved in response to the need to enrich the emotional and imaginative life of a patient and carer, to seek ways to elicit connection through playful and creative means. Certain problems in care contexts cannot be solved, and so we suggest playing them.

We want to ask:

  • How can creative practices we usually identify with forms of theatrical or artistic play - games, rhythmic exercises, imaginative & creative writing tools - contribute to the practical application of care to patients with Dementia/Parkinson’s?

  • What forms of resources and tools might be developed - in person, written or digital - in order to support a carer of someone with Dementia/Parkinson’s to enrich the experience and offer comfort and support to patient and carer?

  • How can we engage ‘creative resistant’ carers in the R&D process to best approach the challenges of care culture? Another way of asking this, perhaps, is how can we make care practice more enjoyable?

  • What are the mental, emotional and physiological outcomes a carer might look for in a patient they hope to engage with via creative practices or tools?

  • What steps are needed (psychologically, physically and emotionally) to open carers to explore their creativity? How do we language this?

  • What are the primary needs of a carer mentally, emotionally and physically in order to sustain a nurturing practice and environment for a Dementia/Parkinson’s patient?

  • What practical, creative care methods - touch, eye contact, breath, song - best offer connection between carer and patient, and how can the carer cultivate this?

  • How can we measure the outcome of improved care quality in a Dementia/Parkinson’s patient in medical terms (ie blood pressure, mobility, memory)?

  • Play as an additional means of evaluating a patient’s capacity/disease progression etc. For example, as a means to identify what a patient can still do well (e.g. providing additional means of reaching the patient); perhaps helping the patient to identify what they can still do well to improve wellbeing.