This week we’ve been shining the spotlight on dementia, taking a closer look at a number of organisations and groups that support people in Leeds. Today’s post comes from Karen Bentley, Memories Outreach Worker for Care & Repair Leeds who has been helping people step back in time to stimulate conversation and reminisce about the good times.
Karen, could you tell me briefly about your role?
I am the new Memories Outreach Worker for the Activity Library at Care & Repair Leeds. My role is to visit families living with dementia to deliver and collect reminiscence resources. These have been designed to be fun activities for family and friends to use. In addition, I attend groups and meetings to promote the service and gather feedback to expand the service further.
So, what is the Memories Reminiscence Library all about?
Conversation with a loved one living with dementia can often be strained as short-term memory deteriorates. Our reminiscence library contains a wide range of resources that have been designed to tap into passions and interests stored in long-term memory. For someone living with dementia, accessing these memories with family and friends provides a fun, inclusive activity, which aids wellbeing and can help break down barriers. The library offers a free delivery and collection service, making it easier for people to borrow our resources.
What sort of activities/ services do you offer?
One of our most popular activities is a set of discussion cards featuring photos of entertainers from 1940- 1989. These are lightweight cards that are easy to hold and use, with familiar images from Charlie Chaplin and Vera Lynn, to Larry Hagman and Ken Dodd. Other popular resources include nostalgic games, scrapbooks, simple jigsaws, memorabilia packs, large print song books and newspaper collections.
We also offer a healthy homes assessment to everyone accessing the library, in order to explain and refer into other services provided by Care & Repair. For example, this may include a referral to arrange the installation of grab rails and equipment to help prevent falls, the repair of door and window frames, or a visit from a Silverlinks volunteer to share housing experiences.
In addition, we signpost to other organisations providing support to carers and those living with dementia e.g. Carers Leeds, Neighbourhood Network Schemes, Peer Support Network and the Alzheimer’s Society.
Can you give us some examples of the types of people you support?
We support family members and friends of those who are living with dementia. For example a wife borrowing our sporting reminiscence cards to provide a conversation aid when relatives come to visit. Another example is a family member or friend borrowing items to take on a visit to a relative who may be in residential care.Our service provides free resources which supports family and carers of older people who are living with dementia. Reminiscence activities support family relationships, and can raise mood and increase well-being. This in-turn may reduce the isolation and confusion that many older people who are living with dementia feel.
What do you think are the main challenges that people face?
Thanks to the Henry Smith Charity and Jimbo’s Fund, we now offer a free, citywide collection and delivery service. This helps families overcome mobility and access issues which can be a challenge for carers of those living with dementia.
How can people find out more about accessing the service?
Simply give me a call on 0113 391 8338, email firstname.lastname@example.org or take a look at our webpage: http://www.care-repair-leeds.org.uk/memories-dementia-project/
Do you have some top tips on how people can improve their memory in their own environment too?
Have a go at creating your own reminiscence activity with your relative or friend who is living with dementia. Use old family photos and memorabilia, copy them and create a book together or find out more about your relatives early life, interests and hobbies.As short term memory deteriorates, keep information simple, and repeat it frequently. Keep a routine, and keep things the same as much as possible. Try to avoid telling the person that they have had this information before.
Many thanks to Karen and all the team at Care & Repair for talking to us and for all the great work they are doing!