Local people with dementia at the Beechdale Ward in Halifax are taking part in a special activity by theatre company 2TourTheatre designed to engage their memories.
2TourTheatre is a small scale touring theatre company specialising in movement based theatre. They will be running two performances on the ward for patients and staff, who are part of South West Yorkshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust,
The ‘Memory box’ installation will be a sensory experience that represents the memories patients told 2TourTheatre during their research prior to the event.
The installation will contain clothing, food, sounds, smells, films, furniture and live performances all designed to offer an uplifting experience that the audience can explore in their own time, without any pressure to engage more than they desire.
The main bulk of material for the piece will come from the patients themselves and will include smells of their past such as perfume or flowers, tastes that they associate with happy memories like roast dinners, or sounds from their past such as songs or films.
At the same time as experiencing the objects there will be a live performance by the theatre company re-enacting the memories of the patients.
People admitted to acute admission units within the Trust’s older people’s services such as the Beechdale Ward often have great difficulty communicating their experiences.
Staff who work in these units develop ways to best communicate with patients, and events like this help staff discover more about a patient’s past, leading to better communication and an understanding of a person for their future care.
By capturing and portraying stories based on real practice the 2 Tour Theatre are able to articulate patient experience through sounds, objects and smells. This helps staff get to know someone better.
Speaking about the ‘Memory Box’ Dr Richard Coaten, Project Co-ordinator who works in the Trust’s older peoples services, said, "The aim of the project is not only therapeutic for patients, it also helps staff see the person behind the illness; a person who has had a full life, with a myriad of experiences someone so much more than simply a patient on a ward with problems. The project helps staff better interact with and understand the people they care for truly living the values of our organisation in a creative way and improving the quality of our care."