The purpose of this resource is to invite you to use Hilde’s story as the basis to think about your thoughts and opinions on connecting with people with advanced dementia.  This may be something that you haven’t spent too much time thinking about up to now. The story, information and questions in this resource are designed to offer surprises and new insights into the types of connection that are possible.

Watch hilde’s story

In this video Hilde tells the story of a connection found between a gentleman with dementia, and Lily Elderflower. Lily Elderflower is Hilde’s persona when she works as one of a team of therapeutic clown practitioners (Elderflowers) who are trained to work with people living with dementia.

Noticing Questions

The following questions invite you to consider what you noticed in the story you’ve just heard, and anything that has stirred your curiosity.

If you are watching the video with a group these questions could be used as part of your group discussion.

What was there to celebrate/ what did you like in the story…

                                       … in relation to connecting with people with advanced dementia?

From hearing the story, what are you wondering about …

… in relation to connecting with people with advanced dementia?


This section describes a number of specific practices used by the Elderflowers to generate feelings of connection. What follows is a number of unearthing questions which can be used to think about your thoughts and opinions in relation to connecting with people with advanced dementia. 

The idea of unearthing is that there are more treasures to be found when we look beneath the surface. The description of practices and unearthing questions are created to help us to ‘look beneath the surface’ of the story we’ve watched. 

Some of these practices which were present in Hilde’s story include:


Slowing down slightly to make something of each moment

Lily assembled her clarinet piece-by-piece, giving time for the gentleman to observe what she was doing, and for this to be part of their connecting together.

Avoiding making assumptions about what someone with dementia may understand

Lily did not shy away from talking about the technical terms of the clarinet pieces, this was done as a conversation with Petal, so that the gentleman could be part of this conversation without having to answer direct questions himself.

Following up on clues that have been offered or found

Lily picked up on the possibility that the gentleman was interested in jazz through noticing the posters of musicians in his room. She then picked up on his subtle eye movements in response to her mentioning playing jazz, and used this as the basis for developing their connection.

Focusing on what could be created together by showing some vulnerability of what you don’t know, would like to know and could do with some help with

Lily used her own desire to play some jazz, which was something she showed her own vulnerability as she needed some help; this was met with the gentleman’s desire to help her with this. The focus was not on creating the perfect tune, but on tuning in to where he was wanting the music to go.

Unearthing QUESTIONS

What feelings did listening to the story, and reading the different Elderflowers practices, generate in you?

As well as those listed above- were there other practices you noticed in the story that created connection between Lily, and the gentleman?

From your reflections on the ‘Moved by Eye Movements’ story, what would you like others to know about the possibilities for connection with people with advanced dementia?

Contact us

This project is funded by the Dementia Services Development Trust and the project members are...

What we've built on

This work builds on more than two years of collaboration between...