Relics of Preston's past being used to help dementia patients

Care homes and volunteers are being invited to join in a new reminiscence programme – using objects from the past to get Preston people talking about the old days.

By Catherine Musgrove
Friday, 24th May 2019, 3:30 pm
Updated Friday, 24th May 2019, 4:30 pm
Member of the Harris Reminiscence Volunteer Team
Member of the Harris Reminiscence Volunteer Team

Every month a small team of volunteers at the Harris Museum and Art Gallery visit local care homes and Dementia Cafés with things from the museum collection to run reminiscence sessions.

From Brylcreem to tiddly winks, gas masks to old Preston photos, the items are used as prompts for sharing memories and chatting about the past.

Now the The Harris is looking to recruit a few more volunteers to join its small, but supportive team.

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Members of the Harris Reminiscence Volunteer Team making up a box

Full training will be given – both by the Alzheimer’s Society on becoming a Dementia Friend, and also by the museum staff on the objects being used.

One member of the Harris Reminiscence Volunteer Team said: “You meet some fantastic people working on this project.

“People’s faces really light up when you show them something like an old ration book. And you hear some fantastic stories.

“It can be a very moving a rewarding experience. After a session it really seems like the participants feel better – and so do I.

“The team are great and we all support each other.”

The Harris also has a small number of slots free in its reminiscence programme. Sessions can be delivered in local care homes in Preston, or Dementia Cafés.

There are a range of themed boxes you can pick from, including: holidays, school days, looking good, shopping and the 1950s.

Sessions normally last about one hour and are currently offered free at no charge.

Linda Danson, social co-ordinator at The Brambles Care Home in New Longton, which runs memory box sessions, said: “These Harris reminiscence sessions are so beneficial to our residents.

“They really look forward them and their faces light up during the sessions.

“There’s lots of ‘I remember that!’ and it just gives our resident so much to focus on – which is just great.”

Experts claim memory boxes can help keep people with dementia calm, feel included and open up about their past with carers.