Parables of Care illustrates responses to dementia care.

Posted on 8th October 2017

A new book, representing creative responses to dementia carers, as told by carers, has been produced in a new visual format by a collaboration including an academic from the University of Chester.

Dr Simon Grennan.
Dr Simon Grennan.

Dr Simon Grennan, from the Department of Art and Design, has worked in partnership with Dr Ernesto Priego of City, University of London, Dr Peter Wilkins of Douglas College, Vancouver, Canada and an NHS Trust, to produce Parables of Care. 

Simon, who is a Post-Doctoral Research Fellow in Art and Design, is an internationally acclaimed contemporary artist, comics scholar and author of over 40 comics and artists’ books.  

The short comic book includes 14 informative and touching stories, drawn by Simon, which were adapted by more than 100 case studies of real-life dementia care situations described by a range of carers, which are available at http://carenshare.city.ac.uk/

Simon and the small international team looked to expand the accessibility of this archive of carers’ stories and found that by creating short graphic art stories they could portray the emotional conveyed in these situations.

Exploring this further, Simon adopted a very short form: each story involves only four panels and is just one page long. Unlike clinical descriptions, this form enhances the affective aspects of each story, putting the reader at the centre of situations that are often on the verge of incomprehensibility, but which are all resolved. In this respect, each story is universalised and becomes a parable.

A reviewer from Vancouver commented: "I feel like I actually LEARNED something about dementia from this. A don’t think any other medium could have conveyed what is conveyed here so succinctly. Without context, the first time I looked at it, I felt the comics were confusing. When I read it again, the stories became more interesting and both the problems and ways they were handled became clear. Fascinating."

Simon said: “The book is already garnering praise and plaudits from the care and comics communities – typical responses in the UK and Canada include: ‘Parables of Care is beautiful, moving and at the same time very strong, particularly for those of us who currently care for relatives with dementia. Thank you for making this book!’ and ‘This is a smashing, thought-provoking short read, well worth your coffee or tea break. Check it out.’”

The book will be made available free to dementia carers as part of ongoing engagement, training and development programmes at City, University of London, the Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust and The Faculty of Health Sciences at Douglas College, Vancouver, Canada Vancouver. It is also available to download at http://openaccess.city.ac.uk

For more information visit http://www.simongrennan.com/