Care Homes play an important role in their local communities, both as local employers and providers of vital services for older local people. Building links with volunteers and community groups are great ways to keep people connected to the place where many have lived and worked all their lives.
Sharing resident life stories is one method of creating engaging reminiscing activities for residents to enjoy. May is Local Community and History month and Care and Nursing Homes across the Country Court group have been taking the opportunity to find out more about their local area, enjoy reminiscing and sharing some fascinating stories from our residents.
Local and community history month is a celebration of community organised by the Historical Association. Every May, activities across the UK raise awareness of the benefits of a strong community and highlight local history.
Reminding people of their location by talking about the local area, village or town gives people a sense of place. Moving to a care home can be disorientating for people, especially those living with dementia. Assisting people to recall and reflect on important events or times in their lives helps them to define their identity in the current moment.
Our Wellbeing teams have been talking to residents and their families to find out more about our residents’ lives, their accomplishments, and local connections. The teams have been asking families to send in photos and stories to share and use as talking points.
Lots of interesting stories have come to light; from hearing about people’s careers as teachers, postmistresses and sailors to learning about their achievements during their lifetimes.
Manju Panankavil, Home Manager at Tallington Lodge Care Home, explains “We learn so much from our residents, they are full of interesting facts and information. One of our residents told me all about his career as a sailor and his adventures sailing around the world. He was full of fascinating information about the Suez Canal and how the ships navigate through it. He told me all about the mirage he experienced as he sailed through the canal, making it look as if the ships were going uphill. I really felt I’d learned something new”.
At St John’s Care Home in Spalding, residents enjoyed a ‘History of Spalding Morning’ remembering and learning about The Spalding Flower Parade, known locally as The Tulip Parade. The residents shared lots of lovely memories using videos of the floats, marching bands, volunteers and the thousands of visitors who joined local people in watching a wonderful weekend of festivities. The Flower Parade made Spalding famous every year for many decades.
Sharing this activity on Facebook created some great opportunities for families to contribute their memories too. Joanne commented: “Nan would have been interested in the flower parade video as her great great granddaughter Vickie was Tulip Queen in 2004. Nan had the honours of sitting with me, her Grandaughter Joanne in the Grandstand with all the Dignitaries watching the parade and seeing her Vickie waving to us all. Lovely memories.”
It’s never too late to learn something new! By sharing stories and local memories, residents not only learn about each other but also their locality. Staff are always keen to get involved in reminiscing activities and learn about the people they care for. Staff are encouraged to contribute their local knowledge and memories too, helping to form bonds and strengthen friendships between staff and residents.
Reminiscing and life history work can be a great way to communicate with people who live with cognitive impairments such as dementia. Not only is it an enjoyable pastime but helps people feel empowered and contributes positively to people’s well-being.
If you have any interesting stories, photos or memories to share as part of Local History month, we’d love to hear from you. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org and share your stories.