JD: Mind your own retirement with Kaye Fallick and me, John Deeks, and we’re going to talk health and Renee Brack is on the line. Tell me who Renee is, please Kaye?
KF: Well, my friends at APIA insurance who support a company called Five Good Friends, and you may remember.
JD: Who was that guy we spoke to?
KF: Simon Lockyer.
JD: What a delight he was!
KF: A lovely, lovely organization helping people with care at home let me know about what Renee was doing. Now, this is a bit of a secret from you, John.
So, I think what we need to start with, is Renee is undergoing a personal journey, which is called Ticketyboo.
JD: Right, ticketyboo.
JD: Well, look, she’s on the line right now. Renee. Hello!
R: Hello there. How are you?
JD: I’m very well and Kaye is very well. Tell us about Ticketyboo and why we’re speaking to you.
R: Ticketyboo: A Secret in Plain Sight is an artistic feature documentary that I am very motivated and passionate about. And it explores the deeply personal struggle of staying connected to someone we love who has dementia. And so, my dad was a realist artist, who’s work, and world became surreal as a result of dementia. And I didn’t relate to him very well, I didn’t understand it. And so now my research has really exposed me to the wonderful, joyful ways we can stay meaningfully connected to people we love with dementia.
And so, I’m creating a documentary around it. And we’re currently fundraising via the documentaryaustralia.com funding platform.
JD: Why the name Ticketyboo?
R: I’m so glad you asked that. My dad was diagnosed in 2006 and he died in 2011. But then I was able to long lens back and see when it kind of began, which was back in 1993 where some of the signs were. That’s why it’s got the subheading of ‘the secret in plain sight’. But Ticketyboo was something he began to say, and repeat, to say that he was A-okay, which is an old UK World War Two air force term.
And so, when he started doing that a lot, I didn’t know it at the time, but it was kind of a disguise because he wasn’t ticketyboo. And he’d kept it a secret from us and even from himself, I think for several years, which is a shame because we could have had a richer relationship if we had known sooner.
KF: I think that’s a common problem, Renee, that a lot of us see the signs, and sometimes you’re in denial or sometimes you don’t read the signs.
JD: So gradual.
KF: Yeah, but it’s, it’s a big step to go from being a caring daughter to actually making a documentary. So, you, you have background in documentary making?
R: I’ve been a journalist and worked in television for dare I say it, around 30 years. And so, yes, I’ve made a lot of, I’ve done news and I’ve made a lot of material over the years that is short documentary as well as some segments for television, and written a lot of pieces as well, and had a book published. But this is my life’s work.
This is the biggest thing I’ve done because I was so brokenhearted, and grief stricken when I realized after dad had died and my research took me in wonderful directions all over the world. Was that it wasn’t dementia that destroyed my relationship with him. It was my own fear and discrimination around the disease. And we spend so much money on these campaigns to reduce fear and dementia.
JD: Explain that deeper. Renee, Why? Why did it affect you that way? Why did you react that way?
R: Because I didn’t relate to him in the nursing home. I would sit there and not know what to say and not know what to do. And I just let the relationship degrade. So, in the documentary, I’ll be like the poster child of how to do dementia badly, because I think a lot of people out there don’t know what to do when it first hits them. And it’s hard to admit because there’s so much guilt and shame around it.
KF: I think that’s very brave of you because I’ve been through a similar situation. And sadly, with aged care and dementia, you don’t know what you don’t know until you need to know it super urgently. And there isn’t always good information. So, I assume your documentary will be really trying to teach people about what they can do. Is that correct?
R: Yes. Well, instead of being just another medical documentary that says dementia is really bad, we already know that and we know the difficulty of trying to find a cure. So, I decided, like, we really need something out there, a beautiful film that deals with dementia in a joyful and a meaningful way. And I’ve found all these incredibly, compassionately designed engagement devices that I want to explore on film as well.
JD: Such as?
R: Well, The Hug. That’s quite, it’s quite a long story. The hug is a device that has been tested over in Wales, and they’ve got one now in Australia that I want to shoot. And they put it on a lovely woman who is in end-of-life care with about two weeks to live. And it has a face, a heartbeat, a body temperature, and a when you’re sitting down, it puts its arms around you and it hugs you.
And she came out of end of life care. And the researchers who created this $4000 prototype didn’t have the heart to take it from her because she went on to live a better quality of life for another six months.
KF: That’s a big story.
JD: That’s a story in itself.
R: I know, and that’s why, especially with Covid-19 happening now, like to find other ways to do the 3 H’s, as I call them, you know, to hug, hold hands and hope it’s become even more relevant. And we have innovative home care. I mean, there’s also too like people that aren’t necessarily in nursing homes. Five Good Friends is something and a smartphone app that I’m exploring that allows people to tailor who comes to visit them and what their needs are in terms of housework or gardening or even just plain companionship.
And so, the whole documentary is going to have this wonderful inclusivity as a main theme, because we can’t be scared of dementia when it’s just the trillion-dollar disease we need to deal with.
KF: So, my takeout, Renee, is we’re all in this together and you’re going to help us learn together. We’ve got a link to your fundraising on the website and of course, to APIA Five good friends because I know you’re working well with them. And John and I are hoping we get tickets to the opening night.
JD: Oh we’ll be there.
KF: I just threw that out there.
R: I’m so pleased with it. Kaye and John. I’d be delighted to have you along. And I can’t thank you enough for giving me a little bit of time today.
KF: Oh wow, thank you!
JD: Our great pleasure, Renee. And good luck with that. And as I say, the links to the documentary is going to be up on the YourLifeChoices website of course.
KF: Indeed, we will encourage donations.
JD: Thank you, Renee, and good luck with your journey.