How does The SPECAL Method work?

The SPECAL method has the potential to re-instate a sense of well-being for the person with dementia, which can be sustained for life.

We help carers to construct a tailormade care plan which gives crucial confidence to everyone concerned.

Family, friends and professional carers need to be equipped with tools and techniques to manage the condition in a positive way, based on an in-depth understanding of the world the person with dementia is living in.

This understanding is based on the SPECAL Photograph Album, a very simple analogy used to explain how normal memory works, what happens to all of us as we age, and the single dramatic change that occurs with the onset of dementia.

The SPECAL Photograph Album shows that dementia-associated memory loss does not have to lead to a change of personality. There are even ways of working positively with dementia – a counter-intuitive but fruitful consideration.

A person with dementia will experience random, intermittent and increasingly frequent memory blanks relating to the facts around recent events. However, some memories of past events are always available and can be readily recalled by the person, given the right circumstances.

The SPECAL method uses selected intact memories from the person’s pre-dementia past and links these to their activities in the present.  This means that the person is able to maintain a relatively content life in the present, drawing on their own memories of situations and activities which may have occurred many years ago but still have useful meaning for them in their life today.

Find out more about how it works in practice by reading our Case Studies and FAQs.

Further examples are given in our booklet ‘Making a Present of the Past’® which can be found in Our Literature section.

The SPECAL Method in Action

The SPECAL method enables carers to develop and deliver individualised care for any person with dementia and has the capacity to promote and sustain well-being 24 hours a day, every day, for life.

The SPECAL method is based on an innovative way of understanding dementia from the point of view of the person with the condition.  We explain this using a simple analogy – the SPECAL Photograph Album – which everyone coming into contact with the person with dementia needs to understand.

The SPECAL Photograph Album provides a particular way of understanding the experience of the person with dementia.  It enables families to develop an empathetic and fully individualised caring response for their own particular person with dementia.

We use the analogy of a photograph album to describe, in a very simple way:

  • how normal memory works
  • what happens to all of us as we grow older
  • a  single dramatic change that occurs with the onset of dementia

Once we can understand what it actually feels like to have dementia, it immediately becomes obvious that a commonsense approach to managing the condition is not useful.

The SPECAL Photograph Album underpins an innovative and comprehensive method for managing dementia:  the results are extraordinarily rewarding for the person who has dementia and everyone else involved.

Find out more by reading our Case Studies and FAQs.

Take a look at our Three Golden Rules to see how you can start to make a positive difference to any person who has dementia.