At Outwoodcare, we’ve been delighted to see this year’s “Dementia Friends” TV advertising campaign by The Alzheimer’s Society, and in our experience, acts of friendship are making all the difference to people living with dementia.
To mark Dementia Awareness Week 2014, we asked one of our own Dementia expert and Friends, Sue Kilby, to pick her Top Pick dementia friendly products - see below. Sue is a dementia coach and a member of the National Activities Forum at BUPA, and helped us develop our original memorabilia range. Since then we’ve added themed activities, pop-up rooms and moved outdoors with bus stops, post boxes and garden furniture designed for safety and comfort.
Why are our product ranges used by managers of care homes, residential homes, hospital wards and dementia cafes around the UK? For exactly the same reason: they’re dementia friendly for service users, and for carers, family members and friends. Everyone involved gets to enjoy chat and conversation, fond memories, a laugh and a giggle, and those amazing and sometimes elusive moments of lucidity.
Sue can explain better than I can – and she says: “Because your resources focus upon 'the everyday' - the Co-op shop, the post office, old money and more - the items are instantly recognisable by people with dementia. These memories may only last a few moments but they are meaningful for that person, and they not only provide a sense of well-being but also improve self-esteem.”
Please help us to mark Dementia Awareness Week this year by getting as dementia friendly as you can. With many thanks to Sue for her selections, I hope our Top Picks are useful and enjoyable for everyone.
(click the product to see more)
Top Pick #1: Co Op Shop Dementia kit
“Thank you - this reminiscence kit has given our residents many hours of pleasure. We purchased this kit with the idea that it would add to our already established and very popular reminiscence shop. It has done this and so much more.
The packets, boxes and other items are so distinctive that almost all our residents recognise some or all of them. Many shopped in the Co-op (and indeed, a good number actually worked for the Co-op) so seeing the old brands brings back many memories.
We use a wicker shopping basket and fill it with packets, boxes and divi book to show to those people who stay in their own rooms. We fill the boxes with the relevant items - many of our residents love the dried fruit from the box – and lots of the men can be encouraged to shine their shoes with the shoe polish tin.
The staff have learned so much from our residents reminiscence, and families and friends often join in with stories of their own.”
Top Pick #2: Companion Seat
“We recently welcomed a lady into our Dementia Care House and, after speaking to family members, discovered that one of her favourite pastimes was to sit out in the garden with a cup of tea. Her family was keen that this should continue and we purchased the 'Companion Seat' from your garden furniture range, to be placed outside her patio doors in view of the garden. What a success this has been!
The family is delighted by the quality and construction of the seat, but most of all by the design. Not only are the height and width of the two seats ideal for an elderly person but, as the name suggests, it is 'companiable'. They are now able to sit outside together; able to see each other; able to chat together; able to watch what is going on around them; and, most importantly, able to enjoy a cup of tea together!”
Top Pick #3: Woman's Magazine
'It makes waiting in the hairdressers not so bad'.
“This was the comment of a lady who lives in our care home, has dementia, and gets very restless whilst sitting in the hairdressing salon. Since we introduced copies of the Woman's Magazine she is noticeably much more relaxed and sits browsing through the pages of the magazine, often commenting on the advertisements - especially the pictures.
“Unlike modern day magazines, this one has a format and content recognisable to older people often evoking memories. We now have a salon of ladies who wait contentedly to have their hair done. Highly recommended!”
Top Pick #4: Dig for Victory Book and DVD
“The CD really managed to give us all the feeling that we were outside on a beautiful sunny afternoon. The group was mixed stage dementia but it seemed to the same effect on all the clients and the staff. The cook book triggered the most wonderful conversation about the war and the things the clients used to eat; we will be trying some of them later this week!!
“The well-being of the home just felt better all that day and what a joy when I saw two gentlemen walking about our garden of their own free will, something I felt was achieved by the kit.”
“It was amazing how the dementia patients reminisced over the products. I had 2 patients who had severe memory problems and I wasn’t sure how they would take to them but, thanks to the manual, I was at ease and asked a simple question: “Do you remember your divi number?” and they did!!!
“Excellent product. Great for staff and clients alike and would recommend it to more care homes!!”
Top Pick #6: Fun activity cue cards
“The cue cards will come in handy for our domiciliary boxes for people to use in their own homes. It’s very handy to have the notes on the back for people who weren't around in that era to use.”
Top Pick #7: Desbau Corset Poster
“One gentleman was in my office coming to terms with the final days of his wifes life with dementia. She had been his first and only love and they had been married for over 60 years. It was a very sad and distressing time for the gentleman. We walked along the corridor to the Corset poster. These things were never mentioned in the past. Using the poster as a trigger, we talked about the good times 60 years of marriage had given them both. By the end we were crying with happiness of the memories."
Top Pick #8: Post Box
"Its difficult to know what causes challenging behaviour. One lady resident with dementia, quite often became aggressive and difficult to comfort. We didn’t know why. The Post Box was on a wall visible from inside the lounge. We found that one day the lady seemed to be paying attention to it. Pen and paper were produced. The lady “wrote” her letter and was helped to post it in the box. Over the next week this lady became less aggressive and it seemed happier in her mood. We think that she connected with being able to communicate with her husband who she had lost which made her feel comfortable. "