Boxes full of memories

Published: Monday 24 March 2017

Boxes full of memories

ANGUSalive is providing a new service providing Dementia Memory Boxes to help people with dementia retain or reconnect with cherished memories.

Themed boxes are filled with different items, pictures and objects that help to stimulate memories of times past for people with dementia and are available to individuals, families, groups and health professionals.

Serving as tailor-made conversation starters, the differing contents of the Dementia Memory Boxes can prompt recollections of childhood, holidays, home-life, days at work, hobbies, wildlife, countryside and a range of other experiences. The contents have been specially selected to exercise all the senses, for example a photo of home baking that smells of custard can spark childhood memories.

Developed in association with Alzheimer Scotland and clinical practitioners, the Dementia Memory Boxes initiative was launched today at Kirriemuir Library by ANGUSalive.

The project has been funded with support from the Public Library Improvement Fund (PLIF), with the purpose of providing information and suitable library services for people with dementia, in order to assist conversation. The next phase of the project is to provide books on the subject of dementia in libraries across Angus.

Christine Sharp, ANGUSalive libraries' adult and community development coordinator, said: "One of the effects of dementia is that it affects the ability to hold meaningful conversations. This new dementia memory box project addresses the need to provide a way for interaction between the person with dementia and their family or carer.

"We have worked closely with health and social care professionals as well as dementia organisations to identify the best visual, tactile and sensory items for inclusion in the memory boxes to stimulate memory and conversation and support people in all stages of dementia."

The boxes contain memory catalysts, including items such as hats, old photos, postcards, newspapers, a tub of sand, baby powder and a busy hands activity cushion. They can be booked out via the library catalogue online, or at any ANGUSalive library and on the mobile library service. Lending terms for library members are the same as it would be for borrowing a book and at present there are 25 boxes and 12 bags available.

During a visit with customers at Arbroath's Dementia Café, feedback for the initiative from people with dementia was extremely positive. They commented that it was a great idea and a service to be welcomed.

Lindsay Shaw, Dementia Advisor, Operations, Alzheimer Scotland commented: "ANGUSalive's Dementia Memory Boxes are a fantastic resource to people living with dementia and their carers to prompt reminiscence and communication. The objects, photos and books contained within the boxes can help to stimulate memories and encourage conversation. We are delighted that the boxes are available in all of the Angus libraries and would encourage people living with dementia and their carers to give them a try."

As part of the project, ANGUSalive libraries and other front line staff will receive a Dementia Friends awareness session from Alzheimer's Scotland where they'll be learn how to support customers with dementia who visit their facilities and this has already been rolled out in Kirriemuir.

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