Today (Day 16) we feature the fascinating work of Amanda Waring, filmmaker, campaigner, writer and inspirational speaker. I first met Amanda when she spoke at an NCF conference and vividly remember her passion and the power of “HOME” , a film portrayed through the eyes of a woman moving to a care home. Immediately there was a synergy between us as we both wanted to “walk in the shoes” of the person.
I was delighted when Amanda agreed to write a blogpost for this ‘walk in my shoes’ series, looking at dementia from different perspectives. Amanda uses her films, training pack, talks and books to provide vital solutions for improving compassionate care of the elderly and dementia care…
“When Sir Michael Parkinson interviewed me about my campaigning work on behalf of older people he urged everyone in the care sector to view my awareness raising short film WHAT DOU YOU SEE? My film stars Virginia Mckenna and takes a journey through a day in the life of an elderly stroke victim who makes a silent but heartfelt plea for her carers to “ look closer ..see me.” I made this film out of love and desperation and a conviction that I could make a difference.
The desperation came at witnessing the inhumane care of my mother the actress Dame Dorothy Tutin who at the age of seventy was being treated for leukemia. As a daughter I witnessed first-hand the devastating effect that the lack of compassionate care had on both her mind, body and spirit. To my horror, she had been dismissed and ignored at every turn, as if she was invisible. Human contact was at its bare minimum with the demoralized staff hardly making eye contact. In that particular hospital, compassion and interaction with the elderly was not seen as a priority. I was to witness many moments when older patients were treated rudely and with a lack of respect. I realized that you can receive good medical care but without good emotional care, healing can be impaired. To see such a vital woman – as my mother indeed was – crushed by this experience made me determined to move hospitals, where thankfully she was seen as an individual rather than as part of a category .
When Mama died I didn’t want to get bitter, I wanted to take action. I was determined to make a film that would give a voice to the patient’s perspective, and be a powerful reminder to see beyond the age or disability of a person. I sold my flat in order to make WHAT DO YOU SEE? as it was too important to me not to be made. The film has a profound emotional impact with tears at every viewing, and I believe that often one personal story can convey much more than white papers or legislation can, for when people’s emotions are engaged then change can happen that much quicker. The influence and benefit of the film has spread through word of mouth and millions of people have been using it for trainings and inductions within care homes, NHS hospitals, PCTs universities, dementia units, so that the message of this film can be implemented in a real and practical way. As Dr Karim Saad, in a previous blog, has mentioned about raising awareness in schools, I am on a mission to ensure that WHAT DO YOU SEE? becomes part of the curriculum to aid the understanding of the qualities we will need to bring forth to support the ageing population.
The journey with WHAT DO YOU SEE? has been extraordinary, it has been the focus of hundreds of conferences and championed by so many, prompting me to speak regularly on TV and radio programmes. I have set up dignity events throughout the years and spoken around the world with my films highlighting positive care. My talks and workshops have covered dignity, end of life care, spirituality, and I have been blessed to meet the most inspirational doctors, nurses and carers. I have continued to make more films: HOME, THE BIG ADVENTURE and NO REGRETS are short impactful training films that explore transitions into care homes, spirituality and emotional care at end of life and are used greatly in Britain to open up debate and create solutions around these sensitive subjects. My training pack has been used by Dignity leads across the country to change the culture within care homes.
This month I launch my book THE HEART OF CARE for Souvenir Press which is a guide to compassionate care of the Elderly and distills my personal experience and workshops with practical exercises. There is so much work to be done but I will never give up because all the positive feedback reminds me that Mama’s death was not in vain and that a change in attitude and behaviour is possible, and I hope my work provides that key.Amanda’s films are available to purchase from her website www.amandawaring.com
Amanda’s Book THE HEART OF CARE is available from all good bookshops £15.00
You can follow Amanda on Facebook and Twitter.