Anne and Melvin in educational film Mr Velvet Ears

A multimedia resource launched this week aims to help residential aged care staff better support residents with dementia and their loved ones.

The Celebrate Ageing initiative, which includes the film Mr Velvet Ears and a discussion guide, also aims to assist with developing more dementia-friendly and inclusive services.

Mr Velvet Ears follows the story of Anne, Edie, who was diagnosed with younger onset dementia 10 years ago, and Edie’s four-year old dementia assist dog Melvin.

Anne and Edie have been together for 35 years. The film follows Anne, Edie and Melvin before, during and after Edie’s move into residential aged care home Mercy Place Ballarat.

Anne talks so beautifully about being together separately, said Dr Catherine Barrett, director of Celebrate Ageing and the film’s executive producer.

“The film particularly focuses on Anne’s experiences and how difficult it was for her to make that decision,” Dr Barrett told Australian Ageing Agenda.

“She takes us through that process. You really see how difficult it is for her.”

Part of the film is shot through the eyes of Melvin, aka Mr Velvet Ears, via a GoPro strapped on his back.

Anne talks to the camera, and Melvin, about her concerns regarding her decision and Edie moving into residential.

“It leaves you with a knot in your stomach that is so tight that you just can hardly breathe at times. It’s not always like that but at times it is like that,” Anne said in the film.

“Because I love Edie so much, I worry that where she is living; I’ll worry that they’ll not put coordinated clothes on and dress Edie nicely and comb her hair the way I like it. Because I won’t have control over those things,” she said.

Towards the end, Mr Velvet Ears shows Edie, and Anne and Melvin, being welcomed into the aged care home, the trio forming a new life together, and Edie being so well cared for.

Several aged care services have said they will use the resource as a training video for staff orientation and Mercy Health is incorporating it into their training program for all staff, Dr Barrett said.

“I get why service providers would use it to staff education. You could show it to the staff and say this is what we expect of you.

“We expect you to rise to the occasion like this, to understand what families are going through, to deliver this very high standard of care. It is really powerful in the film,” Dr Barrett said.

In addition to service providers, the resource is suitable for groups, carers, families and individuals.

It includes a 40-minute film, discussion points and links to further resources and costs $8 for 24 hours, $50 for a week, $150 for a month and $450 for a year.

Find out more and access the resource here. Watch the trailer below:

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2 Comments

  1. This is a fantastic resource, and we appreciate the effort of Dr Catherine Barrett to make it available for all at such an affordable rate. We also appreciate the generosity of Anna and Edie in sharing what is a deeply personal and challenging journey with us.

  2. Thank you for your sensitive and insightful review Natasha Egan. It was a difficult film to make but it’s value is in the raw and honest portrayal of our experience in moving a loved one to residential care.

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