Using humour to help understand dementia

It’ll be funny, it might help you understand Alzheimer’s better – and it’s already got Rob Gee a new job.

He’s the comic behind Forget Me Not – The Alzheimer’s Whodunit, and when NHS bosses heard about it, they offered him a role helping to prevent vulnerable elderly patients being abused by staff.

GIVING DEMENTIA A HUMAN FACE – Rob Gee’s show is based on his experience with challenging patients

He based the show on his experience as a nurse of people with “challenging behaviour” in the late stages of dementia. In the play, Jim’s wife has died from what appears to be natural causes but the retired detective smells a rat and sets out to solve one last case. The problem is he also has dementia.

Rob plays Jim and 14 other characters in Forget Me Not, delivering a series of clues, plot twists and red herrings, drawing on his 12 years as a registered nurse as well as a long career as a poet and comic working alongside the likes of Jo Brand, Sarah Millican and Jimmy Carr.

As for his new job, he’s been recruited by Leicesteshire NHS to run a series of dementia care workshops, training staff in areas such as whistle-blowing, as well as teaching them how to provide more compassionate care for dementia sufferers.

“I’ll be using both my skills as a psychiatric nurse and my skills as a comic, which is great,” Rob says. “I’m excited about it, because I think it shows the NHS are taking the subject of institutional bullying seriously and really want to do something about it.

“It’s much harder to be cruel to someone if you see them as a human being with the same thoughts and feelings as you and that’s what I want to get across.

“I hope in the future vulnerable patients will be treated better because of some trickle effect that began in my workshops. I hope it means that elderly people will have a nicer experience at the end of their life.”

He was hired after NHS executives heard of his one-man show Forget Me Not – The Alzheimer’s Whodunit. The boardroom execs were so impressed they booked him on the spot.

You can check out the play for yourself at the Star Inn, Guildford, on Sunday (21 July).

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