What Do You See?

Exploring the later stages of dementia within a care home setting


You would not want to be a resident at Marshall Joan’s Care Home. De motivated staff, no stimulation and a culture that lacks care. Fortunately they’ve just failed their CQC inspection leading to a change in ownership, are things about to change? Let’s hope so.

What do you see? Is the story of how Marshall Joan’s Care Home is transformed from a failing, unhappy stress-filled environment to one of success with a culture that cares.

Acting as a companion piece to “Grandma Remember Me?” What do you see? follows the later stages of dementia. It looks at the importance of life histories within person centred care, challenges taboos around death and shows the possibility of choice and the empowerment advance care planning brings.

It takes good leadership to impact change and, important as it is to create a positive environment and culture of care for residents, it is equally important to create a work environment that staff want to work in.

A “theatrical feast” which aims to impact positive change. Described as “powerful” “realistic” and “incredibly funny.”

Project Development

Because of the success of Grandma Remember Me? Az2B was asked to develop a second play exploring the later stages of dementia and issues around care homes and end of life palliative care. We know from our research that there are some amazing care homes out there – but there are also some which are not. During a Q&A after Grandma Remember Me? one lady told us:

“It took me seven care homes before I found one I’d put my dog in, let alone my mother.”

Some may find this statement shocking or outside their experience, for others it may resonate with truth.We decided to focus our exploration on how to impact positive change through education, awareness and understanding.

Our 3 key questions were:

1/ How do you transform a failing care home?

2/ How could the transition of going into a care home be made easier for the person with dementia and their family?

3/ How do you prepare for death?

What do you see? was developed through extensive research, collaboration and improvisation. A particular thank you goes to Dove House Hospice in Hull and Princess Alice Hospice in Surrey who gave us a clear understanding of how to approach death and the knowledge of how to make this a positive, empowering experience.

In March 2016, a 4 week R&D process began with the Az2B team to develop the script, supported by the Arts Council. Our ideas & initial script was presented at a showcase for a cross section of education, health & arts based practitioners. Feedback from this process fed into full production rehearsals in September 2016 followed by a 6 week national tour. The feedback was outstanding.

We believe What do you see? makes a difference and impacts positive change.


Themes within What do you see?

– Staff motivation

– The importance of good leadership

– Advance care planning

– Life histories & reminiscence work

– The importance of discussing death

– Involving children within these discussions

– Lasting power of attorney, advocacy, organ donation, making of will & funeral arrangements

– Person centred care

– Giving the person with Dementia “A Voice”

– Validation of the importance of family within the journey of dementia

– The Gold Standards Framework & EPaCCS

– Importance of stimulation

– Dignity within care

Testimonials showing the impact of What do you see?

Validates peoples experiences:

“Brilliantly observed, very touching & realistic. Provoking……”

“I have worked in care homes the last 10 years and you get all aspects of what’s “good” and “bad” in care across very well. Really enjoyable. Thanks!”

“Very fair representation of challenges people, staff and families face. All care homes should see this!”

“Amazing performances, a lot of things rang true having volunteered at a not so nice care home.”

“The realistic performance throughout the plays left me both amazed and relieved. To know other people experience the sadness and emptiness of dementia is comforting. Thank you deeply. For inspiring and understanding” Sophie. Burnley College”

It has emotional impact

“An extremely moving portrayal of the changes that can be made. Brilliant play”

“Fantastic & empowering”

“Very powerful presentation.”

“Wow, wonderful. Started feeling really depressed, ended feeling very positive. Very emotional, brought tears to my eyes.” Kim Wood, Alzheimer’s Society”

“This production touched my heart. It made me think deeply about relationships with the ones I love. Thank you.” Adrian – staff

 Reflects real life situations

“Realistic representation of what we hear about care homes in the media. Hard – hitting. Thanks for including about EOLC”

“Would be excellent for training in any setting especially care homes & care settings – but also for anyone interested in “dementia” and “dementia care”

“Very informative play. Will help in finding the right care home”

“Outstanding and sensitive performances – a spectrum of Dementia issues, skillfully handled!”

Encourages people to talk about death

“We need to talk more about what we want in death. Awesome!”

“It is brilliant that you are tackling something that is often taboo but affects us all in one way or another. And doing it so well”

It inspires & motivates

“I was very impressed with this play. It seemed to capture very clearly and simply the stark differences with exist re dementia care. In particular there was a real sense of the difference that good leadership can have on a care home and the need for carers to feel cared for. This reflect the work of individuals such as David Sheard.”

“Very good. Helped me to stay motivated with my team as I am a care manager. Just started life stories. Understand how important they are”

“Thought provoking and shows the turn around that a motivated member of staff especially a manager can make”

“It would help every care provider if “about me” was in place. What an inspiration!”

“Excellent production, really inspired me to think about my own future and what I would want. Certainly highlighted the good and the bad.”

“Very insightful, starting with a sense of despair but with awareness, change and an emerging respect for the person looking at you, finally hope and dignity. Really wonderful.” Linda Fraser

Educates & Improves health care practice:

“Very enjoyable, entertaining moving & educational – best and most interesting form of dementia training to date. Thanks”

“Brilliant. Made me think about how changes in care homes can make residents & staff so much happier”

“It’s been a great day for teaching – thank you for an amazing performance and delivery – I do the theory – you guys make it real xx”

“Thank you for a fantastic performance which related perfectly to material I am teaching currently”

“Very informative and interesting, has helped to build on my knowledge of working with the elderly and how I can incorporate person-centred care and whole family approach in my practice. Was Brilliant!”

“Absolutely fantastic. Great training tool, delivered very concisely in a highly effective and entertaining way. Faultless. Would love to see “theatre training” spread out into whole of mental illness. Staff amazingly talented.” J.Moody AMHP

“Powerful stuff, very detailed. Very thought provoking, very enjoyable. A must for All Care Staff.” Tom

Impacts Change

“Reminds me to look at the person inside the shell”

“Every car provider should see this. Really eye opening and will influence the care I provide and encourage me to speak out about poor care.”

“Gave an amazing insight into care home settings and the challenges faced to deliver care. It gave me something to think about when I visit patients. Thank you.” Jane Knowles RDASH complex care practitioner

“This play relates to everyone, most importantly to care home staff, a true eye opener. Fantastic”

“Made me think about how important it is to find out about the real person.”

 Developing audiences & creating even better shows

“Saw Grandma Remember Me and this was even better! My mother recently died in a care home from terminal illness and I was very moved by how Carers were portrayed from beginning to end. Thank you”

“Superb realistic performance again. Thank you!”

“What do you see? Excellent play again! More characters- a step further on to     Grandma Remember Me?”

“Awesome – inspiring – Everyone should see both plays!”

“This play should go into every care home in the country. Brilliant. I would have like to see the 1st play!!”

Promotes a culture of Care

“Lovely to see the changes in moral in the staff. Should be shown in all care homes to show a bit of attention goes a long way.”

“Everyone should see this play! Perfectly captured importance of well trained, motivated care staff and understanding the person behind the dementia.”

“Shows that change for the better can happen”

Challenges & provokes debate

“You should be so proud of how thought provoking your play is. Amazing!”

“All social workers should come and see it to remind them why they became social workers”

“Brilliant, very thought provoking. Defo needs to reach care home staff.”

“A fantastic way to raise Dementia Awareness. The play was insightful, thought provoking, hear breaking but also uplifting to see that you can live with dementia. Thank you so much”

“A very thought provoking, powerful and emotional play x”

So realistic. Thought provoking! Educational! Emotional – amazing talent x” Sandra, Progress to Excellence

 As a great piece of theatre

“Excellent puppets. Entertaining approach to a difficult subject.”

“Wonderful actors”

“This was a fantastic performance, amazing puppets!”

“A wonderful performance”

“Excellent, very well acted!”

“Can’t even express how amazing this performance was! Well done to everyone involved and please keep up the good work. Amazing!! Thank you”
“Amazing performance. Actors made me feel connected. Really interesting and life changing.”

“Well scripted!”