About Contented Dementia Trust

The Contented Dementia Trust pioneered a different and highly effective way of managing the condition for people with dementia, their carers and family. Called the SPECAL Method, this approach to dementia care takes the view that the condition is a disability that can be effectively and successfully managed, as opposed to an irreversible medical condition that must be defeated.

The SPECAL method of managing dementia is based on a particular explanation of the experience of the person with dementia, using the analogy of a photograph album to represent the memory system and photographs to represent individual memories (1). These ‘photographs’ are unconsciously stored, reflecting both facts and feelings of what has just happened a moment before. Dementia is understood as the appearance of a new type of photograph, in which there are no facts, only feelings.  Facts and feelings stored in pre-dementia days remain intact and potentially accessible. This significant change requires those of us without dementia to adjust our normal communication skills when engaging with the person with dementia. Caregivers are able to avoid many areas of distress if they learn to avoid referencing the recent past unless the person with dementia does so themselves.

This understanding gives rise to a set of principles and highly practical skills which enable care givers to work positively with dementia and connect with the person through the establishment of a common language.