This week I have the great pleasure of having Hilary Lee the President of the Spark of Life Program providing a guest post. I first met Hilary and her associate Jane Verity in 2011. These two remarkable ladies have developed a program that has the potential to stand how we currently care for people living with dementia on it’s head.
But don’t just take my word for it – the proof comes from those families who have experienced what the Spark of Life provides.
My name is Hilary Lee and I work with Dementia Care Australia, which has developed the internationally awarded Australian philosophy Spark of Life, that applies epigenetics and quantum physics to the care of people with dementia with profound results.
So, what is Spark of Life? Spark of Life represents the essence of what gives and sustains life. The ‘Spark” comes from our inner source as a human being. It is what gives us the will and purpose to live. For people with dementia and their families Spark of Life is about restoring hope, joy and zest for life. It enables people with dementia to improve and live life to the fullest potential in a way that up until now has not been thought possible.
I’d love to share a personal story with you to illustrate this from the year 2000. I was working as an occupational therapist with people with dementia in an isolated nursing home outside Perth. The residents there had significant behaviour problems, and many were highly medicated as the staff had exhausted their ideas of how to manage these behaviours. I took 2 of my therapy assistants with me on a 1 day course to learn about the Spark of Life Club Program, run by Jane Verity, the occupational and family therapist who developed it. We came back very inspired and set about implementing this program 7 days a week to involve as many residents as possible. We noticed changes almost immediately, improvements in behaviour, social skills and language, to a point where many could come off the medications that were used to sedate or calm them. The unexpected results had a wonderful impact on the staff as well, who got so much joy and satisfaction seeing that what they did in their job could make real and lasting improvements in their residents, these people whom society had given up on. This significant outcome was a turning point in my life, and led to me choosing to research the approach, which I did over the next 7 years, first as a pilot study, and then through Curtin University of Technology as a Masters in Science.
Spark of Life draws on new research in sciences such as quantum physics, epigenetics and neuroscience, and these explain how it is possible for people with dementia to improve.
So, for example, quantum physics is about the quality of the energy we bring to an interaction and Spark of Life is about the practical details of bringing an energy that ignites the spark.
Epigenetics is the new science of how outside influences, including our thoughts control our genes. They can literally switch on and off positive and negative biological responses in our bodies. Spark of Life fits the paradigm of an epigenetic medicine as it infuses beliefs and behaviours that are conducive to positive health.
Spark of Life was internationally awarded in 2009 because the philosophy operates in a new paradigm that enables rehabiltiation and rementia in dementia care. Rementia is when people with dementia improve in particular because the social and emotional environment around them has become more supportive.
If you want to find out more about this unique approach, there is a lot of practical information and guidance on the website, including a library of articles, and forum to ask questions and footage of what is possible with Spark of Life. You can also find out about courses we are running and there are 2 certified Spark of Life courses soon here in Perth in November 2012.