A new series is currently showing about dementia patients: Channel 4’s The Restaurant That Makes Mistakes, about the eponymous experimental restaurant in Bristol headed by Michelin-starred Josh Eggleton.

I missed the first episode about the dementia patients and their families but saw the second episode about the restaurant’s first few days when it opened to the public.

I thought this would be depressing, but it was most encouraging, not unlike the ‘train ride’ therapy I wrote about yesterday.

The patients — staff — of this Bristol establishment have early-onset dementia. Many of them had highly responsible jobs: company owner, mortgage adviser, legal representative, sole trader (plumber), to name but a few.

Seeing people my age and under suffering from dementia was shocking. They were shown being given tests by a doctor before going on the programme. They were unable to answer the most basic of questions.

Not surprisingly, they all felt worthless.

The wife and mother of five who is suffering knows that she has only a few years to live. She is correct. I saw a young Alzheimer’s patient for a few years when visiting a family member in assisted living. On my next visit, he was no longer there. He had gone to his eternal rest. The director of the home told me that younger dementia patients die sooner than older ones. I had not expected to hear that.

The idea for the programme came from Tokyo, as Television Business International reported on September 24, 2018, before filming began:

The Restaurant That Makes Mistakes is from Red Arrow’s CPL Productions, the makers of BAFTA-nominated Old People’s Home for 4 Year Olds and Motion Content Group, co-producers of C4’s Dementiaville. It is supported by The Alzheimer’s Society.

A group of Alzheimer’s sufferers will be trained to work in the restaurant for a five-week period, where they will be visited by a host of celebrity diners and members of the public.

With more than 40,000 people living with dementia and aged under 65 in the UK, only a fifth of them continue to work post-diagnosis. A team of experts will oversee the ambitious project to evaluate whether the experiment could potentially change how businesses recruit, employ and retain staff who find themselves living with dementia.

Inspired by a real-life Japanese pop-up restaurant that opened in Tokyo last year, the 5 x 60-minute series attempts to start a wider national conversation about how we think about people who live and work with the increasingly common condition.

I give Josh Eggleton bags of credit for participating and heading the restaurant:

He is correct in saying that this experiment restored the patients’ sense of self worth.

He has a chef trained in dementia who worked with the patients in the kitchen:

This short video shows Sue, the patient with vascular dementia who ran the bar. Josh Eggleton said the experience was nerve-wracking at first but ended up brilliantly. The young man in the film is Eggleton’s dementia-trained chef who has a high genetic probability of getting Pick’s Disease, another form of dementia. Both he and Sue ran together in the London Marathon for charity:

The more abled patients helped the others, such as the former business owner who helped the former legal adviser welcome diners at the front desk. She could not remember what to say and kept asking them if they wanted menus. Finally, she got there with regard to ‘Welcome to The Restaurant That Makes Mistakes. Do you have a reservation?’

The former mortgage advisor runs the till, because her mathematical acuity is still sharp. She just speaks rather slowly.

Here are a few other selected tweets from the second episode:

The doctor in the film explains dementia:

The third of four episodes is on Wednesday, June 26, 2019. If you live in the UK, please tune in!

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