Staff at Lofthouse Grange & Lodge Care Home in Wakefield were tasked by Home Manager, Marsha Tuffin, to produce memory boxes in their first in-house challenge.
Over four weeks, they were split into six teams and charged with creating a themed memory box for residents to enjoy time and time again. Each team had a leader who discussed ideas with a small group of residents, culminating in memory boxes themed around history, toys, food, music, fashion and holidays.
Marsha set the challenge with no boundaries but asked the leaders to be creative within the communication with team members and many set up WhatsApp groups as staff worked across day and night shifts.
“I asked that the teams try and cover as many of the sensory elements in each of their memory boxes as per their dementia training which all staff have now completed”, Marsha said.
As well as residents, Marsha also asked industry experts to judge each team entry and received some amazing responses.
Prof Martin Green OBE, chief executive at Care England, said: “They are all amazingly creative and will provide such fantastic stimulation and reminiscence for residents.
“They are also great because you can engage with families and friends, (when we are out of lockdown) and I particularly liked them because they would provide a fantastic talking point between residents and grandchildren, and these boxes are so relevant to all generations, and you can really get a feel of how younger people would discuss them with their older relatives. You could get great discussions going about how things have changed in all these areas.”
Steven Reynolds, former chair, National Activities Providers Association (NAPA) commented, “I think a lot of thought and imagination has gone into creating all the memory boxes. They demonstrate that those who worked on these understood dementia and the purpose and value of reminiscence materials and appealing to various senses.”
Professor Dawn Brooker PhD, director of the Association of Demential Studies, said: “All the memory boxes look fabulous and please congratulate all the teams who put so much thought into putting them together”.
And Prof Tom Dening, head of Dementia Research at Nottingham University and part of the Government National Dementia Strategy, complemented Orchard on its initiative, said: “Thank you for inviting me to vote in your competition. The boxes are splendid and it’s not easy to choose. I would go for holiday, fashion and mining in that order, but congratulations to everyone for taking part. Do let me know the results.”
Residents voted by postage notes on their favourite memory box and, combined with the input from the external judges, Marsha announced the three winners as Holiday, History and Fashion.
Marsha added: “I have been so incredibly proud of the teams and very moved, not only by their commitment and teamwork but the overall care, passion and attention to detail in taking on this challenge and embracing what this means to our residents”.
Hayden Knight, CEO at Orchard Care Homes, said: “Throughout the coronavirus pandemic, we have protected the safety and wellbeing of our residents, providing person-centric activities to not only stimulate their minds but give them a sense of purpose.
“The memory box initiative created by Marsha has gone a long way to giving them enjoyment as they recall past memories but also strengthened the bond between staff and residents.”