The value of reminiscence for dementia care5th March 2020 | 8 min read
Reminiscence involves sharing thoughts and feelings of past experiences. Recalling and reflecting upon important events and memories helps to link the past to the present. In this way, encouragement to reflect on past experiences helps people living with dementia to establish their identity in the present.
While we were investigating innovative ways to bring reminiscence to life for our residents, inspiration came from a UK care home that had transformed a room into a vintage train carriage for their residents to enjoy. With its location overlooking the railway line, Blacktown Terrace seemed the natural choice to pilot this idea. Many of our residents have developed an affinity with trains and enjoy engaging in the daily activity on the rail line, identifying the commuter and freight trains as they pass by.
The project began using proven principles of design in consultation with experts in dementia care. The team identified a physical space in the home that could be easily adapted to a train-like setting and created a mixed-media video collage displayed on digital screens that serve as train windows, displaying an ever-changing view of the journey. The space was brought to life with station boards, ticket booths, luggage racks, and old suitcases to complete the immersive experience. Residents enjoy playing bingo and board games together during their journey, while others enjoy engaging in conversation over refreshments or even just taking the time to read the paper. The setting is also ideal for intergenerational activities.
Our Innovation and Design Manager, Brad Sebastiao has led the trial and implementation of the project and is enthusiastic about the outcomes for our residents. Brad says, “I worked closely with our team and residents to refine the end result to ensure we met the needs of those participating. It is such a privilege to be able to work so closely with our residents, team members and families, looking for new and innovative ways we can all get to know each other a little better.”
Care Manager, Santosh Poudyal is equally enthusiastic, “Our residents are really enjoying the experience. One particularly positive example we’ve seen is with a gentleman who is living with dementia. He rarely engages with others and generally prefers to walk by himself in the garden. When we introduced him to the train experience he joined the group and engaged for over 45 minutes, happily chatting about the landmarks, birds, and cars he was seeing on the screens. It was a wonderful thing to witness.”
An expert in the field of dementia care, Anne Kelly of Montessori Consulting commented, “Any experience that stimulates reminiscence and stories of past days is invaluable for people living with dementia. The joy of riding a Sydney train, with familiar sights and sounds is sure to provide a meaningful experience to those who board. Congratulations to Opal for taking this concept and creating a whole new pleasurable experience for those living with dementia - all aboard for the 2020 journey!”
"We travel not to escape life, but for life not to escape us" - Robyn Yong
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