Care Home Takes Dementia Patients Down Memory Lane : Smart Memory Power

Care Home Takes Dementia Patients Down Memory Lane

I’ve just heard about a care home in the UK that’s helping dementia patients to take a stroll back down Memory Lane in a very innovative way…

The Blossom Fields Care Home, in Winterbourne, South Gloucestershire, has a number of residents with dementia and wanted to find a simple way to spark conversations with them about a time that’s more familiar to them – their past.

The solution turned out to be on a grander scale than you might first think.

Memory Lane

Memory Lane

They created a full-scale, functional ‘Memory Lane’ – A street in the garden of the care home that’s straight out of the 1950’s, with its own fully-stocked grocers, working pub and even a bus stop.

The entire ‘street’ has been decked out with authentic adverts and signs from the period, in the hope of creating a safe environment for those with dementia.

Benefits to Dementia Sufferers

What I love about the project (as someone whose grandfather has the early stages of dementia) is that it gives the residents a place to go and things to do. Most of the residents will have been very active, often more than today’s working generation, and they still need to have a sense of purpose. This project gives them somewhere to go and things to do.

It’s also a beautifully unforced way of allowing the residents to talk about the past, complete with various memory triggers to help them.

In an interview with This is Bristol, senior manager of Grove Care (who run the care home) Christopher Taylor said:

“It means that carers can bring people out here and talk about what they are feeling and reminding them of things from their past. Rather than just sit in a garden most elderly people want to see something and go somewhere to keep their minds active.

Often, dementia sufferers retreat in their minds to a time in their lives that’s ‘safer’ and clearer for them to talk about.

In this environment, they can read newspapers featuring articles about the Queen’s coronation, get threepenny stamps from the Post Office and even have a cheeky drink in The White Horse pub. They can even post their letters in the authentic George VI post box or use the ’50’s phone box.

Potential drawbacks?

To be honest, the bus stop is the only thing that made me a little uneasy…

Perhaps a dementia expert can explain the reasoning behind it.

To my mind, my grandad has ‘gone walkabout’ on a number of occasions, and become quite aggressive in the process, with a desperate need to be somewhere specific at all hours of the night. It’s usually somewhere related to his working life.

Surely, in those residents with more advanced dementia, the bus stop will both confuse them and encourage the idea of wanting to leave?

On the plus side, at least the bus stop, along with the rest of the street is within the confines of the care home where presumably, it’s harder to leave without the knowledge of the carers and staff.

Either way, I think it’s a very interesting idea overall.

But what do you think? Do you know someone with dementia? Would they benefit from this type of environment? Leave your comments below and be sure to share this via Twitter and Facebook.

For more on this story, check out this video from the BBC.

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Category: Memory News

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I'm James Gladwell, chief contributor and editor of I'm fascinated by the human mind and I set this site up in order to help people increase their memory power, while I learned how to improve mine. Feel free to leave a comment on the site and let me know how you think I can make the site better.

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