Schoolchildren and those living with dementia share memories at Stowmarket care home
A project building empathy and understanding about dementia has come to a Stowmarket care home, with a local school visiting to hear about residents’ lives and experiences.
The Year 4 students, from Wood Ley Primary School, sat down with residents at Chilton Meadows Bupa Care Home to ask them questions about their lives, which included conversations about paintings of pets, holidays and football matches.
The trip was supported by the Somerset-based charity Reminiscence Learning which runs The Archie Project, bringing together schools and care homes specialising in supporting those living with dementia to learn from one another.
At the end of the visit carers and residents handed out storybooks full of the adventures of the charity’s scarecrow mascot Archie.
Julie Flatman, cabinet member for Communities, Health and Wellbeing, said: “Intergenerational events like this are just incredible. The connections made on the day really brought the children and residents out of their shells – the residents were keen to share their stories, their jobs and add to the conversation. There’s an energy in the room when the school visits and people’s eyes light up when they get to share like this.
“We are working hard to find new and effective ways to support those living with dementia in Mid Suffolk and this is just one of the schemes we are trialling across the district. We want our care homes residents to have access to the specific activities they benefit from most.”
A dedicated fund was created by Mid Suffolk District Council cabinet members to improve dementia services and support across the district which forms part of a broader package being invested by members to support the health and well-being of its residents.
Stacey Burch, activity co-ordinator at Chilton Meadows Bupa Care Home, added: “The residents at Chilton Meadows had a great time meeting the children and spending the morning together. They particularly enjoyed answering questions and telling the children about things like their jobs, pets and families. It’s a great way to keep their minds active and once they’ve started sharing they’re often keen to carry on and ask questions from the children too.
“There’s a lot of investment in projects for those living with dementia in the district right now and I’m excited to see what else can further benefit our residents. Thanks to Wood Ley Primary School and Mid Suffolk District Council for getting involved with The Archie Project.”
And Sandra Renwick, headteacher at Wood Ley Primary School, added: “It was delightful to see the children engage enthusiastically with the residents and they were keen to learn more about their lives, families and interests. It is such a good opportunity bringing the generations together. I was extremely proud of the children – they produced some lovely painting depicting their conversations with the residents and they are keen to visit again. Thank you to Stacey for the warm welcome, we had an interesting morning.”
This is the latest work by Mid Suffolk District Council to support those living with dementia in the district. In December, the council started a six-month trial of two interactive tables being rotated throughout care homes in the district.
Using projectors that respond to movement, residents can interact with games, quizzes and calming scenes that boost the moods of residents and give them opportunities to share stories of their own lives.
Also underway is a trial using interactive pets to provide comfort and companionship to residents and singing sessions using familiar songs everyone can join in with. Both these activities work to activate the memories of those living with dementia, making them feel more responsible and part of a community.