A local NHS Trust has been providing its expertise in dementia care to help a pioneering project which uses films from the collections at the Yorkshire Film Archive to connect the past to the present, and bring back memories to share and enjoy.
Working with dementia experts from the South West Yorkshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust and from Age UK, the Alzheimer’s Society and Methodist Homes for the Aged (MHA), the Yorkshire Film Archive has created "Memory Bank", an innovative series of carefully curated themed DVDs and online films, plus a wealth of information and activities for use in reminiscence therapy and life story work.
The Alzheimer’s Society estimates that in Yorkshire and Humber alone, there are more than 60,000 people diagnosed as having dementia and a further 65 per cent of cases are as yet undiagnosed.
The films that have been used in Memory Bank have been selected largely from home movie collections held by the YFA, ensuring that everyone can relate to the familiar subject themes: Holidays, Schooldays, Sporting Fun, Working Life, Domestic Life, and Fêtes, Fairs and Fireworks.
The curation of the final material has been based on over 18 months of action research with a large number of participants, and benchmarked against Care Quality Commission standards.
Memories of knitted bathing costumes, free school milk, 1960s fashion mistakes, favourite fireworks and clocking on at work became the immediate hot topics for conversations after watching the films.
Memory Bank packs also contain a user guide, film notes, lots of ideas for discussions, suggestions for activities, guidance on starting a memory box, and a "Life and Times" section spanning the changes over the decades from the 1920s up to the 1970s.
Sue Howard, Yorkshire Film Archive Director, said: "Memory Bank is about opening up our collections to a huge range of older people, many of whom face a number of age related challenges, and who often have very few opportunities to see and enjoy films such as these. Reminiscence therapy and memory work play an invaluable role in improving a sense of personal identity and wellbeing, and stimulating communication and sociability.
"Memory Bank is a unique proposition – it uses films taken largely from our home movie collections, which are a fantastic visual record of everyday life over the decades. It is these films that trigger all of our collective memories."
Suzanne Wightman, Senior Manager at the South West Yorkshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, said: "The Trust’s work with older people in a variety of settings has shown us the positive impact reminiscence can have on someone’s wellbeing and was the basis for our own Portrait of a Life work. Reminiscence can help us hold onto what defines us as an individual, which can become increasingly difficult with dementia. We are thrilled to be able to assist this Memory Bank work and share our expertise in this area and believe it will be another great resource for anyone affected by dementia."