I’ve recently met an amazing lady - Amanda Waring – who is an actress, writer, director and campaigner, and she’s doing some fabulous work on the issue of ageism. Amanda has sent me the below regarding her work and her short film.
I am passionate about finding ways to change society’s attitude towards older people and I hope that the ten minute film I have made “What Do You See?” starring Virginia McKenna will continue to inspire people to have more compassion and understanding in the care of the older person, seeing them as an individual rather than as part of a category.
I was inspired to make this film when my mother, the actress Dame Dorothy Tutin was being treated for leukemia. I witnessed firsthand 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 it’s 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 witness to many moments when older patients were treated rudely and with a lack of respect. To see such a vital woman - as my mother indeed was – crushed by this experience made me determined to move hospitals. Her experience at the next hospital was better but only when Mama was in the care of wonderful Macmillan nurses did I see truly holistic care.
When Mama died I was determined to make a film that would highlight the need for respect and understanding of the elderly, raising awareness as well as revenue for the charities Macmillan Cancer Support and Help The Aged. I sold my flat in order to fund “What Do You See”, as it was too important to me not to be made. My film 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 have sold over 3,000 copies worldwide where ”What Do You See” has been used for trainings within care homes, NHS hospitals, prisons and schools. The message of this film can be implemented in real and practical way. “What Do You See” is available from the online shop on my website.
Topic : Aging Posted By : Anita Roddick Posted On : November 1, 2006
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Re : What Do You See? By Julie Walker-Farrow on November 7, 2006
Amanda, you are a true angel. I too was regularly visiting my Aunt in an aged care home and i always looked forward to seeing the smile on her face when i arrived. Whenever i took my 6yr old son, all the other residents would get so excited by having that new energy around them. What was a shocking eye-opener for me was how most of the other residents almost never had a family member visit them, as i always took for granted the elderly had a son, daughter, neice or nephew who would make an effort a few times a year to visit. Unfortunately my Aunt recently passed away, and out of respect to her i will be visiting some of the other residents so they too have something to look forward to. I would hate to become one of those elderly people in a home with nobody who cares enough to visit 'me'. I will be supporting & help spread your message.
Cheers, Julie (Australia)
Re : What Do You See? By Grace on November 2, 2006
Dear Amanda, Anita, and Staff,
I have a close family member who has been in poor health for many years. It is so heartbreaking. Although this man is not old, he just had a heart condition that warranted surgery at 60 and he never recovered. Since then he has had a series of mini strokes and seizures, and heart and lung problems, which has made him unable to communicate. You see my children only know him as sick and since he hardly speaks, you would think they would have lost his insight. However, my children hear him without words. They find him funny and have found who he is deep within his blue eyes. He frightens other children but not mine. They are very protective of him and defend him if necessary. They enjoy spending time with him although he is so ill. I take the children to the hospital when he goes and ask them just to smile and make eye contact with other patients. That really works and that makes others smile back at them.
My children and I also dedicate time to the unfortunate and lonely and visit nursing homes because some people have no family. Some of the people have no families or visitors and it is amazing what a hug from a child can do to those that are forgotten. They all know my children’s name at one nursing home. I tell my children the exterior is not as important as the interior (the heart and soul) of the person.
Having cancer or being sick is scary enough without the insolence of others. Bravo to you Amanda for sharing your story and making this video so people are aware that sick is not dead.
Thanks Anita and Staff for sharing this with us.
"What difference does it make to the dead, the orphans and the homeless, whether the mad destruction is wrought under the name of totalitarianism or the holy name of liberty and democracy." -- Mahatma Gandhi