Nursing profs among collaborators for research-based dementia film

York U research nursing

Two researchers from York University’s School of Nursing, in the Faculty of Health, are part of a team that has created a research-based drama film called Cracked: New Light on Dementia which screens at the Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema on Jan. 19.

York University Professors Gail Mitchell and Christine Jonas-Simpson are among the collaborators on the project, which presents qualitative research on persons living with dementia, family care partners and health care practitioners.

York U research nursingCreation of the drama was funded by the Canadian Institute for Health Research (CIHR) Knowledge Translation Supplemental Grant and Partners in Dementia Care, University of Waterloo.

The Jan. 19 screening launches the film version of the theatrical production, and raises important questions about the dominant ‘tragic’ ways persons with dementia are understood and treated in our society.

Inspired in part by Leonard Cohen’s words in Anthem, the play is intended to offer a perspectives on persons with dementia as vital human beings with agency and possibility.

Cracked follows persons with dementia and their families on their unique journeys with dementia, from diagnosis through to their new lives in a long-term care home. The families grapple with what the diagnosis means, if and how the diagnosis changes their relationships, and how they struggle to be with each other in the present where the persons with dementia call them to be.

It is based on research conducted by Sherry Dupuis, Gail Mitchell, Pia Kontos, and Christine Jonas-Simpson, all health researchers who specialize in the areas of aging, dementia, and research-based drama. The play was developed collaboratively by a group of artists, the researchers, persons living with dementia and their family members.

The production challenges assumptions of loss that define current conceptions of dementia, and advocates a new ethic of care premised on the importance of bringing relationships to the forefront, supporting embodied self-expression, and ensuring the humanity of persons living with dementia is fully supported. View a trailer online.

Cracked is grounded in the idea that relationships must be front and centre when providing care for persons with dementia, memory in all of its forms must be valorized, self-expression must be nurtured, and the humanity and full citizenship of persons who are living with dementia must be fully supported. This perspective is in contrast with the dehumanizing care practices that still prevail in many dementia care settings.

Impact: Cracked, the theatrical version upon which the film is based, has been publicly performed 41 times and has been seen by more than 4,000 people. It continues to tour Canada.

Recently a significant gift from a family has funded the filming of the drama.

The screening and special reception takes place Friday, Jan. 19 from 6:30 to 9:30pm. Seats are limited and advance registration is required.

For more, visit the event’s Facebook page.