Books reviewed by James Woodward

The Importance of Food and Mealtimes
in Dementia Care: The Table is Set

Grethe Berg (Jessica Kingsley Publications), May 2006, 88pp, pbk, £12.99, ISBN 1-84310-435-0

This book should be read by all those who are at all concerned about developing their understanding and practice of engaging with older people and their needs. It is a excellent example of writing that manages to maintain a challenging vision and earth this vision in practical suggestions for practice. The subject is simple enough - how food and mealtimes can be used more consciously with people with dementia. In taking this focus it opens up a range of daily problems faced by carers and others who attempt to connect with those living with dementia. Its attractiveness and intelligence clearly emerge out of the wisdom of practice-based experiences of an occupational therapist who works in Norway and has developed a specialist interest in the care of older people particularly in rehabilitation.

From my perspective, of someone working in residential care, I was particularly glad to have the opportunity to have the chance to reflect about meal times and their purpose as discussed in Chapter 1. Chapter 2 is a comprehensive, clear and reflective discussion of the meaning of dementia and how it shapes and re-shapes an older person's life. The core of the book, Chapter 3, offers a range of reflections and suggestion for using meal times as a purposeful activity. Finally Chapter 4 acknowledges the difficulties of relating theory to practice as it discusses building design, interdisciplinary collaboration, the organising of staff and residents in a care home and staff participation and education. The author is wonderfully sensible about the acknowledgement of those tasks that are work in progress.

Jessica Kingsley continues to be an innovative publisher advancing our commitment to developing old age care. This volume is a welcome addition to their list and should be widely bought and read.

James Woodward