Dementia Friendly Service Tips for the Service Leader

Updated: Aug 1, 2019

Be slow and intentional in every aspect of the service

· Speak slowly and clearly so that you are easy to follow

· Don't rush the service (but keep it short, no longer than 20 minutes)

· Make direct eye contact as much as possible

· Repetition in a single worship service and in subsequent services helps the worshipper

to sense continuity

Worship with, not from above

· Don't be afraid to kneel in front of each person and hold hands, getting down on the same level

· Don't speak just from the front. Interact with the worshippers; sing and pray with them

Be observant, attentive, and ready to respond appropriately

· Watch carefully for any responses. Pay attention to physical, spoken, or emotional clues

· Listen carefully to what worshippers say and give them room to express themselves. Individual sharing can contribute to worship. You can encourage sharing by asking questions and by empathising with worshippers' experiences. Show them you are listening and understand what they say by using words that capture the emotions they are expressing

· If you sense the need to talk about something a person or the group might be going through, go ahead and do it. Have some appropriate hymns ready and be prepared to lead the group in prayer should a special need or concern come up. Don't worry about getting off topic-

· is more valuable to meet the worshippers' needs than it is to push forward with the planned service. Be flexible during the worship service, because it could take many different directions

Show love and acceptance

· Always be patient

· Don't correct worshippers in what they say-accept their reactions

· Validate the worshippers' experiences and perspectives. Do not argue with them. Instead, affirm what they say and give gentle guidance

· Use tools like eye contact, touch, and careful listening to show the worshippers love and acceptance

Be discerning

· If a person reacts inappropriately to something, handle the situation in a careful and sensitive manner

· Don't be too quick to give up. Of course, if it is appropriate to do so at a certain point but try to act with patience and wisdom. You may be able to address the person's need in the context of worship through prayer and singing


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