Created by Ella Hambly with help from Bird Lime Media
I'm Ella. Over the past year or so since the first lockdown I've been able to focus my intentions on pursuing production roles, first training as a researcher with the MAMA Youth project and now working in that role on BBC Countryfile. This experience has affirmed to me that this is career the direction I'd like to travel in, making and producing factual content. Before any of this, I worked in my hometown of Bristol crewing ferries along the river Avon, where I still occasionally pick up weekend shifts
Tell us a a secret about you
I haven't been to uni
Give us the elevator pitch for your piece
I lived with my 98 year old grandmother Gladys who has vascular dementia. Throughout the past year she’s been completely unaware of COVID, despite not going out, as she can’t comprehend and store new information effectively. This got me thinking about the moral implications of constantly reminding someone of something they’ll soon forget, that will only serve to agitate them in the meantime.
Why did you want to make this piece?
The impact of this isolated time without stimulation on those with dementia is irreversible, a convalescence without improvement. People over 70 were being deterred from face-to-face assessments due to social distancing measures, meaning the national diagnosis rate has steadily declined since February 2020 due to a reduction in services. The increase in remote consultations may have been acting as a deterrent for older people who generally have lower levels of digital literacy. At the peak of the pandemic, guidance from the Royal College of General Practitioners assigned a lower level of priority to routine non-urgent primary care. This included over 75s’ annual reviews, which are a safety net in the early diagnosis of elderly people who often do not seek out NHS services out of a fear of being a burden. This left some people in the early stages of dementia living in isolation without a diagnosis, unable to access practical, emotional, legal or financial advice and support services. Depression itself can be an early indicator of dementia. The fear for many is that the lockdown measures created to keep vulnerable people safe in turn accelerated their loss of communication skills. These struggles are occurring behind closed doors.
What are the next steps with your piece?
Creating this piece got me thinking about the moral implications of constantly reminding someone of something they’ll soon forget, that will only serve to agitate them in the meantime. We’ve faced similar quandaries with family bereavements. There is no blanket NHS advice available on this nuanced issue, but there are a few schools of thought that I’d like to explore further. Specifically, the differences between the validation and reality orientation methods and their effects on cognitive ability and wellbeing. There must be lots of people out there in the same situation. I’d like to speak to them, carers and people with early stage dementia, to give me perspective on my family’s own position. I would see this as a one-off 30 minute audio piece covering the controversial SPECAL method and lack of NHS advice on the complex issue of withholding information from those with dementia for their own wellbeing.
What was the process of making a podcast like for you? Anything unexpected?
The process of recording and editing this piece made me think more about the way my grandmother experiences the world around her. She can't effectively store new information. It made me more conscious of the confusion I can instigate by mentioning covid and the current situation. I think that because I was mulling over the topic a lot I changed my behaviour and soon ceased discussing the topic with her altogether. This was unexpected.
Describe how you made your piece
I had been recording my grandmother's reaction to key moments in last year's news cycle before applying to make this piece with Rise and Shine. I already had most of the recordings without the know-how to edit them together well. Rise and Shine connected me up to Dawn at BirdLime Media, who was instrumental in helping me sequence and edit this piece on Audition. By sharing our screens on zoom a couple of evenings a week, Dawn and I were able to consolidate Gladys' thoughts and I think in turn express on her behalf the feelings of immense confusion she'd experienced over the various lockdowns. Me being so close to the interviewee, it was also very valuable to have Dawn give an impartial opinion on the editorial value of different recordings. I learnt so much during this process, including how to correct levels. Having previously only worked in video formats, I enjoyed the process of editing audio, which felt much more content driven.
What's the most interesting thing you learned as part of this?
How to use audio editing software.