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Utilizing the Shared Reading Model

Shared reading is what goes on in sessions where a poem is read aloud to participants who then partake in open-ended discussions. The reasoning behind this intervention is that shared reading can have a positive effect on people living with dementia. Increasing research evidence has been gathered in support of this potential benefit.

On November 20th 2014, Professor Philip Davis will present a seminar dedicated to shared reading groups and quality of life benefits for those living with Dementia. A number of projects have been conducted looking into a group-reading and the effect this can have on dementia care. This upcoming talk will explore these projects in greater detail.

The Shared Reading model

Group members participate voluntarily as they wish and interact in relation to what is happening in the text itself and to what may be happening within themselves as individuals. The Shared Reading model, used by The Reader Organisation in libraries, GP drop-in centres, prisons, drug-rehabilitation centres, looked-after children facilities, is sufficiently flexible to be adapted for different settings and for the needs of different client groups.

The model will never see results over-night. It requires hard but enjoyable work, the careful, enthusiastic running of the groups, and some training in the choice and use of literature, so that participants feel both at ease and involved. But as Melvyn Bragg testifies in the preface to the project’s most recent report on reading with people living with dementia, great results have been seen in a number of groups. One group, reading aloud the poem ‘Daffodils’ by Wordsworth, saw how the sharing of the words from the poem with each other enabled their minds to work together supportively. In repeating the poem over several sessions, some group members who, to begin with, could not understand Wordsworth, began to dig deeper and even memorize the words. Such developments are a step towards helping the human mind suffering from dementia through finding the human being still emotionally alive and responsive

Who can you look to for more information in order to involve yourself in using of shared reading?

Via The Reader Organization:

This is a Liverpool-based national charity and social enterprise that promotes the benefits of reading and engaging with literature for everyone, regardless of their circumstances. TRO has been delivering shared reading groups for people living with dementia since 2006 and there is a growing body of evidence which shows how the shared reading programme has acted as a positive intervention in relation to the health and wellbeing of people living with dementia, with marked improvements in agitation levels, mood levels and concentration levels for participants, as well as improved social interaction.

The Reader Organisation can provide short training courses to help you form your own shared reading group - answering the following questions and more, in depth and with practical application:

What to read?
From the research carried out it is clear that short pieces of reading material, particularly poetry, work best for ‘shared reading’ for people living with dementia. Poetry can act as an emotional trigger for memories and thoughts, supported as it is by the song-like power of rhyme and rhythm as activators. , These structured pieces of writing can stimulate the brain and help with attention and memory. The Reader Organisation has published a helpful anthology A Little Aloud .

Who to read with?
Within the various projects, groups involve 6 to 10 participants. This would therefore be a good number to read with if you are looking to use the shared reading model. The most important aspect is to establish a core group who support each other and work together.

How long to read for?
Generally an hour is enough to stimulate the minds of those in the group. As the reading material is short, this is sufficient time for both reading and discussion.

What to do in the session?
The poem will be read aloud several times by the group leader. Participants are free to read aloud themselves and/or offer comments and thoughts in the course of the subsequent discussion, but no one is obliged to do anything. Each member of the group has his or her own copy of the poem so that people can choose to look at the poem as well as listen to it, as they wish.

Centre for Research into Reading, Literature and Society (CRILS)

As a research unit dedicated to investigating the effect of reading serious literature in the wider world, CRILS is involved with a number of research projects with a view to benefiting the health and well-being of those struggling with their mental health.
The team has recently published a report, Read to Care, which pays particular consideration to the uses and the value of literature to trigger awakenings and stimulate deep personal memory in people living with dementia. Complimentary copies of the report will be available.

Read to care

Liverpool University present a seminar based around this subject of shared reading groups and benefiting the quality of life for people living with Dementia. The presentation will be given by Professor Philip Davis, Director of CRILS and a Professor of English Literature. He will be accompanied by Grace Farrington, one of the project workers from The Reader who participated in the practical delivery of the group reading model. We hope the talk will be of interest to those people concerned in any way with dementia, and anyone intrigued by the extraordinary possibility that reading literature might be of help in the area of health and well-being.

This seminar will take place on 20 November, in the Sherrington Building, Ashton Street, Liverpool, L69 3GE. Cost is £20. The seminar will start at 6pm with a buffet supper available in the foyer of the Sherrington Building from 5.30pm.

If this subject is of interest to you, do not miss this opportunity to discover this inspirational research in greater detail.

To register your interest in attending please contact the CPD team at or telephone Joan Scott on 0151 794 5776. Alternatively you can visit the even page today and book online here.

We look forward to hearing from you and hope you find the seminar valuable.

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