A NEW initiative which will help people with dementia feel less isolated is being championed by Wirral Council and Wirral Hospital Trust.

Reminiscence boxes containing retro household items, clothes and music will help dementia sufferers recall memories. Wirral’s libraries will have an important role in collating and distributing them.

Wirral Globe:

The service will make reminiscence boxes available to people with dementia in Arrowe Park Hospital, and for use by local community groups and care homes via their local public library. 

Cllr Chris Jones, cabinet member for adult social care and public health said: “Dementia is a cruel condition and sufferers can become isolated from society if effective support is not available. We have been encouraging Wirral Council employees to become dementia friends and to learn more about the illness and change perceptions about it.

“The council leader has agreed with our partners in the public services in Wirral that we will work together to pool our budgets, facing the financial pressures that we are. The reminiscence box project is an example of Wirral’s public services working together to help us meet one of the pledges we jointly agreed, to ensure that older people live well.”

A launch event at West Kirby Library featured 1950’s fancy dress and live music, with residents of Hilbre Lodge care home in Hoylake revelling in everyday memorabilia from times gone by. The event was attended by deputy mayor, Councillor Pat Hackett, Wirral Alzheimer’s Society and the borough’s Older People’s Parliament.

Reminiscence boxes will now be introduced on the wards at Arrowe Park Hospital and at other local libraries.

Victoria Treadway, library and knowledge service lead at WUTH, said: “It was like Christmas, with the residents’ faces lighting up as they recognised items from their youth. The day really couldn’t have gone any better and it was reassuring for us to clearly see how this project is going to help people both in the community and in our hospitals.

“The project is a great example of partnership working between the hospital and the council to support people living with dementia in Wirral.”

Peter Aspinall, strategic library manager, Wirral Council, said: “Dementia care is a huge agenda across health and social care, and by 2025 it is estimated that there will be 1 million people with dementia in UK. Speaking from a very personal perspective my mother who died recently suffered from this terrible disease so I know any support we can jointly give to people of Wirral and their families suffering from dementia is vital.

“The aim of these boxes is to make available items with a themed approach so that older people with dementia can share experiences from their past with items in the boxes as the stimulus.”

Throughout the summer the team has been collecting everyday items donated by generous members of the public.

The launch event featured ten different reminiscence boxes, including childhood toys, board games, crafts sets, beauty products from previous decades and local memorabilia.  

Boxes will be available for the public to loan from Wirral’s central libraries in West Kirby, Birkenhead, Bebington and Wallasey. Some boxes will be available to nurses, volunteers and other hospital staff, to use alongside patients with dementia. 

Margaret Davies, dementia matron at WUTH, said: “We have always been great at offering the best possible medical treatment to our patients. But it is equally important to recognise the person as well as the diagnosis.

“Our new dementia strategy is all about doing the right thing for our patients and a big part of that is creating the most appropriate environment to make them feel comfortable.

“The Reminiscence boxes will be a valuable addition to the way we deliver dementia care as the old items instantly help to create a dementia-friendly environment on the ward.” 

The team is planning to have more reminiscence boxes in circulation by this time next year and are calling on all members of the public to donate any vintage items.

  • To find out more about the reminiscence box project and how to donate, contact Laura Pringle, Librarian at West Kirby Library on 0151 929 7730.