A memory improvement project at Broughshane’s Wilson House has helped participants through the sense of touch, taste and smell using items from their past.
Clients from the Day Centre took part in ‘Sharing Memories, Building Communities’ which is an initiative funded by the Big Lottery.
Colette Fairley, Manager, Wilson House Day Centre said: “The Project aims to address the needs and issues affecting older people with disabilities including social isolation, loneliness, depression, low self-esteem, limited supportive relationships and poor mental health and wellbeing that impacts on physical health.
“Over the past 16 weeks the participants have shared their memories and also gained new friends. They have been challenged by new processes such as the silk painting and produced a wonderful exhibition of work.
Clients revisited the past through personal items such as one client’s wedding dress. Through the sense of touch and smell the participants were able to share her memory of her wedding day and also reflect on their own experiences.
The sense of taste was used with the group when they tried to guess what sweets they were tasting, this brought them back to their childhood days of buying sweets at Woolworths in Ballymena and Cafolla’s cafe!
The sweets workshop was such a success that the clients had a day out to Aunt Sandra’s sweet factory to learn how sweets were made.
Childhood memories of World War 2 were revisited using a memory box borrowed from The Braid Centre.
It contained artefacts such as an oversized gas mask designed to hold babies.
Even participants who had no memory of the war, were drawn in by the ration books and a well written narrative that put Ballymena’s experience of the war into context.
The clients also took part in memory building activities.
Over a series of weeks the participants drew their childhood home and painted flowers using watercolours.
Most of the participants had never painted before and were quite anxious with one client in particular expressing her reservations concerning her inability to draw.
With guidance and reassurance she was able to produce a wonderful sunflower.
The Sharing Memories, Building Communities Project is running over four years and Creative Reminiscence Groups are set up in six day centres across the Northern Health and Social Care Trust and the Project employs three reminiscence workers.
The project, the first of its kind in Northern Ireland is a partnership between the Reminiscence Network Northern Ireland, (RNNI) and the Trust’s Health Improvement/Community Development Service and Day Care Service.
To find out more about the Sharing Memories project please call Wilson House Day Care Centre on 028 2586 3820.