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McEvoy, P. (2020). Holding time: human need and relationships in dementia care: by Esther Ramsay-Jones, London, Free Association Books, 2019, 240 pp., £14.99 (paperback), ISBN 10: 1-91-138325-6; £14.99 (paperback), ISBN 13: 978-1-91-138325-3. Psychoanal. Psychother., 34(1):68-70.

(2020). Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy, 34(1):68-70

Holding time: human need and relationships in dementia care: by Esther Ramsay-Jones, London, Free Association Books, 2019, 240 pp., £14.99 (paperback), ISBN 10: 1-91-138325-6; £14.99 (paperback), ISBN 13: 978-1-91-138325-3

Phil McEvoy

I wrote this review because I think that Holding Time is an important book that deserves wider recognition. Written by Esther Ramsay-Jones, a practicing psychotherapist and associate lecturer at the Open University, Holding Time examines the internal and external world of the residents and staff in two dementia care homes.

At first glance Holding Time appears to be a well written, very accessible book that depicts in fine detail the micro-interactions and fabric of everyday care home life. However, when one starts to dig into the detail, it has many more layers. Holding Time bears witness to the reality of what living in a care home is like.

Holding Time does not skirt around troubling issues of human need and relationships in dementia. Because of that, like dementia itself, it is a book that has the capacity to unsettle the reader. As I began to read Holding Time, I found that it resonated with some of my core fears. I found it upsetting to reflect upon how isolated and lonely I would be if I was removed from my family and forced to live in an alien world with others whom I did not know. It also provided a poignant reminder of my own vulnerabilities, as I empathised with what it may be like to progressively lose my ability to look after myself and make the daily choices that give me a sense of security and control.

Holding Time took me back to my childhood when I watched episodes of Dr Who from behind the couch. I learnt about a resident Melie who could never say that she wanted to go the toilet and continuously rocked, her bottom half rubbing against the cushioned sofas.

[This is a summary excerpt from the full text of the journal article. The full text of the document is available to journal subscribers on the publisher's website here.]

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