On this page, we describe the people and resources needed for a To Whom I May Concern® project.
When we talk about a typical “To Whom I May Concern® project,” we mean the process to form a Sharing Group of people with dementia, gather stories and work with the group to create a script, and put on a performance before invited community members.
A project usually takes 8-10 weeks to complete. Click here to learn about the steps involved in a typical project.
People and Resources for a To Whom I May Concern® Project
A Sharing Group of People with Dementia
At the heart of any To Whom I May Concern® project is the voice of people with dementia. A Sharing Group of people, usually in the early stages of a form of dementia and who are aware of their diagnosis and ready to talk about their lived experience of dementia, is formed as the first step in a project. A Sharing Group can be formed from an existing support group, advocacy group, or social group. If no group currently exists, people in the community can be invited to join the Sharing Group.
A Sharing Group provides a safe space for sharing personal stories of living with dementia, where there is no judgment, no advice, no observers, and no care partners. The Sharing Group puts the spotlight on the person diagnosed.
A Trained To Whom I May Concern® Facilitator
The facilitator invites people to join the Sharing Group and is jointly responsible for the administration of the group, along with the Scribe. The facilitator’s job is to help manage a process of information exchange, and is responsible for addressing the journey, rather than the destination. The facilitator:
- Helps people feel comfortable, guides the conversation, and validates people’s stories
- Uses Active Listening skills to hear the stories that will form group’s script
- Develops the script based on the stories and within the context of a script template
- Organizes and facilitates the performance.
The Scribe is the facilitator’s right-hand person, and is someone who may be interested in facilitating a group in the future. The Scribe:
- Takes notes on session worksheets (provided in the training)
- Stays alert for the general comfort of each participant
- Frees the facilitator up to concentrate on guiding the discussion and inviting stories
- Assists in organizing and running the performance.
We strongly suggest that those interested in being Scribes also take part in the To Whom I May Concern® Facilitator Training prior to engaging with a Sharing Group. Those not able to attend the training must participate in the coaching meetings with course instructors that take place during the time that you work with a Sharing Group.
Any performance needs an audience! It will be up to the Sharing Group to decided ultimately who will form the audience for their performance. Some groups prefer to keep it small, sharing the script with immediate friends and family, while others invite the wider community through public announcements and advertising.
A Place to Meet
The Sharing Group should meet regularly—usually once per week for 90 minutes—and in the same location each week. Community centers, faith-based community facilities, retirement communities, boardrooms are all great places to meet. The room should be comfortable, allow for people to sit around a table, and should be quiet with no disruptions. Don’t forget the refreshments!
Based on the intended audience, the performance can take place in an intimate setting, or in a theatre. Past To Whom I May Concern® performances have been held at conferences, museums, retirement village social rooms, churches and synagogues, libraries, and even online. You will need chairs for the performers, music stands to hold the books, microphones (hands-free are best), and seating for the audience. The venue should be free of background noise, disruptions and distractions.