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Dovetale Press

Dovetale Press creates vibrant and rich versions of classic books carefully crafted for people living with dementia, Alzheimer’s Disease and other cognitive impairments. The press also promotes access to dementia-friendly books and book groups in a variety of settings.

Dovetale Press

Dovetale Press creates vibrant and rich versions of classic books carefully crafted for people living with dementia, Alzheimer’s Disease and other cognitive impairments. The press also promotes access to dementia-friendly books and book groups in a variety of settings.

More about Dovetale Press

Play Video

Hear about the set-up and ambitions of Dovetale Press from Sally and Gill. 

People living with dementia have difficulties reading standard texts. Memory impairments can make it challenging to follow overlong sentences, to understand lots of descriptive ‘padding’ or to engage with typical page formats and fonts.

Dovetale Press was set-up by an applied linguist, Dr Gillian Claridge, and a psychogeriatrician, Dr B. Sally Rimkeit to address these challenges. Beginning in 2014, Gill and Sally selected and adapted a series of classic stories, including A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens and Little Women by Louisa May Alcott, as well as a poetry collection.

The founders of Dovetale Press are also supporting the set-up of dementia-friendly reading groups in public libraries, care homes and for the younger onset dementia community. This work has been developed and delivered in collaboration with a range of partners including Bupa Care Homes (NZ, Australia and UK), Library and Information Association of New Zealand Aotearoa (LIANZA), Alzheimers NZ, Dementia NZ and YODAT.

Play Video

Hear about the set-up and ambitions of Dovetale Press from Sally and Gill. 

It's about helping people rediscover the joy of doing something they once loved, especially those who have been avid readers.

How the work started
How the work started

Gill and Sally have produced the Dovetale Press series after years of research into reading and dementia, through the University of Otago and with support from Bupa NZ.

Their books were originally developed from a pilot project on barriers to reading for elders and were tested with newly formed dementia-friendly reading groups in care homes. Participants surprised the researchers, family and friends by displaying skills which had been thought lost. One man, who had been verbally unresponsive for some time, amazed his wife by reading a poem out loud. Initially the Dovetale Press editors had assumed that language would need to be simplified. But the language in itself was not a problem, rather it was keeping track of characters and plot. As a result of this pilot, adapted texts were reworked to retain the voice of the original author, while reducing the memory load on the reader. A pilot randomised control trial (RCT) was also carried out by the team, showing that participation in a dementia-friendly book group enhances quality of life, thriving and cognition in care home residents with dementia.

The enjoyment of sharing the reading was very apparent, but I think more importantly, the stimulation of memories and discussions in a friendly group will lead to closer friendships and more meaningful social interactions.

Expanding the work

Expanding the work ...

To open up opportunities for engagement with their texts among a wider span of readers with dementia, the Dovetale Press founders have been distributing their book series and promoting the set-up of book clubs in a range of settings and locations.

For instance, Dovetale Press supported book clubs have been taking place in public libraries across New Zealand. The Press provides 6 sets of their 5 dementia-friendly books and a facilitator’s manual for one or two librarians to support regular running of a small group in 3-week blocks. Research underpinning Dovetale Press reading groups shows that these activities result in a variety of positive outcomes for participants with dementia including: cognitive stimulation through creative ideas linked to the text; enhanced personal identity; and strengthened empathic connection with others, through reminiscence and improved self-confidence.

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