Impact of dementia is in the spotlight at Blackpool's Grand Theatre

Hayley Riley and Louise Evans in Over the Garden Fence at Blackpool Grand Theatre
Hayley Riley and Louise Evans in Over the Garden Fence at Blackpool Grand Theatre

The stark realities of living with dementia are the focus of a hard-hitting production being aimed at those working in the health profession.

The two-person show was based on real life experiences of the condition and how it affects people.

Blackpool Grand Theatre

Blackpool Grand Theatre

Performed at the The Grand, ‘Over the Garden Fence’ launched this year’s Dementia Action Week in Blackpool.

Written and performed by Hayley Riley and Louise Evans of Haylo Theatre, it tells the emotional story of a grandmother and granddaughter as they take a journey through time, exploring how small moments make a library of memories that last a lifetime.

Haylo Theatre is based at Chester University, where Hayley and Louise create productions to help medical professionals focus on patient-centred care.

Hayley said: “This production is based on our personal stories.

David Houston

David Houston

“We’ve written the play ourselves and perform it as a way to encourage those conversations, and find that it really resonates with people and their personal experience.”

Louise added: “We work a lot with health educators and medical students, social workers and people working in the community, and this production just helps to promote that person-centred care approach, encouraging them to remember the person behind the diagnosis.

“We want to help focus on the patient’s value, their life and their experience.”

Dementia Action Week runs until Friday and includes a garden party at Revoe Park tomorrow; tombolas at Great Eccleston Village Centre tomorrow and at the Solaris Centre Cafe on Thursday – both from 10am to 3pm – and an information event all day on Friday at Blackpool Victoria Hospital.

David Houston, chief executive at Trinity Hospice and chairman of the Fylde coast Dementia Action Alliance, said: “The production of Over the Garden Fence was a real roller-coaster of emotions which only reflects that which comes with a diagnosis of dementia for the patients themselves as well as all those around them.

“It was an excellent portrayal of how we are made up of memories, and how a simple conversation can open up the floodgates and really make a difference in a person’s life.

“The performance was bookended with our May hub, with plenty of stalls and information to help people and their loved ones through a diagnosis and to live well with dementia.

“Our huge thanks to Haylo Theatre, Blackpool Grand Theatre and to all of our partners in the Dementia Action Alliance for helping to launch Dementia Awareness Week in Blackpool in such a spectacular way.”

Blackpool Council is also hosting its fifth annual Dancing With Dementia event at the Empress Ballroom in the Winter Gardens on Wednesday June 6.

A council spokesman said: “The public health team is delighted that Blackpool has been awarded Dementia Friendly community status and with the partnership work that is ongoing to raise awareness of dementia.

“We hope that many of our residents will take part in all the activities going on during Dementia Action Week.

“We will round off the activities of Dementia Action Week with this year’s Dancing with Dementia, which will be a memorable day of music and dance as well as a raft of information for people who may have concerns about dementia.”

- Tickets for Dancing With Dementia are £10, available by emailing emily.davis@blackpool.gov.uk or calling (01253) 476377.