Reminiscence Project with Banbury Museum rebuilds links between people with dementia and their pasts

Music and photo's are particularly powerful tools of reminiscence NNL-180503-114610001
Music and photo's are particularly powerful tools of reminiscence NNL-180503-114610001

Last week residents of Bodicote’s Fairholme House finished a two year collaboration with Banbury Museum which took them on personalised journey down memory lane.

Called the Reminiscence Project, it has been silently reconnecting people with dementia with their own pasts for the last ten years.

Karey Morley, a museum assistant who runs the reminiscence programme explained: “We have been delivering reminiscence at the museum for ten years but for the last seven years we’ve really started to increase what we deliver.

“This is the museum’s engagement with older people. I have a once a month session here that anyone can come to over the age of 55 and they decide what they want to do.”

The sessions have been recorded and provide a unique audio history of the town and life in bygone years.

To expand the programme and target more specifically people living with dementia the museum set up an outreach program called ‘Keeping Connected’ with the sole purpose of connecting care home residents with their family, friends, care home staff and, in some way, their own personal history.

After funding was approved the museum put the word out and Fairholme responded. They started working together in October of 2015 with each session not only tailored to a specific place in time, but to the individual residents.

Karey said: “I go in and work with the activity co-ordinator, Julie, she’s been amazing and we provide activities that the residents and their friends and family can all join in.

“We try to find out all about them and Fairholme are very good at that, getting information about the residents, their backgrounds and then you can deliver sessions based on them.”

This individual touch, incorporating such things as old wedding photos, favourite songs or making memory books has had a profound effect on even those with the most severe dementia.

Funding has now run out for the sessions, run in short sharp bursts often spaced months apart but Fairholme are looking to fund the sessions themselves.

Owner Asgherali Gulamhussein said: “We weren’t quite sure how it would pan out but as soon as the first session was done you could see the residents engaging in the activity. That was a joy to behold.

“When the funding stopped the museum wasn’t quite sure if it would carry on as it will be a cost to the home.

“As soon as the museum director called me I said ‘whatever it costs, we are willing to continue because we can see the benefits.”

The sessions also bookend the visits from Kingsfield Nursery children who will soon be visiting twice a week. The programmes have been so successful the CQC rated as outstanding the home’s service responsiveness.