In a series of creative sessions at Mayfields, Boston, people with dementia and their carers are getting an opportunity to learn new skills and rediscover forgotten talents.
The fortnightly sessions began in September and are delivered by Lincolnshire County Council and local artist Carol Parker. The activity is funded by Boston Big Local and also supported by Boston Mayflower, which provides a member of staff to help out.
The aim of the creative art workshops is to reduce rural and social isolation, offer sensory stimulation to trigger memories, increase self-esteem, and help those taking part develop a stronger sense of identity to delay the progression of dementia.
Feedback from the creative sessions has been extremely positive and the Memory Lane activities are prompting actions that are set to provide a fantastic legacy for the project. Many of the carers are already using the transferable skills they have learned at home with their loved ones. One carer has joined the Boston Dementia Action Alliance and plans to give back to the community as a carer representative, contributing to Boston’s aspiration to gain Dementia Friendly Community recognition. Another member of the group is considering forming her own informal carers’ support group as a spin off to the Memory Lane sessions.
“My husband has early onset Alzheimer’s disease,” said one carer. “He is only 64 and has been struggling for the last five years. He can no longer do many of the things he used to enjoy, so these kind of activities are great for him. After the sessions he always says how much he’s enjoyed himself.”
Carol Parker, the artist who delivers the sessions explained: “The focus is on getting enjoyment out of making things. Tactile activities such as working with felt or clay are very popular and encourage both verbal and non-verbal communication. During the sessions some members who are usually very talkative become totally absorbed in their work, while others who are more reserved are stimulated to interact.
“One of our members was previously an engineer and we’ve encouraged him to carve hollows in a block of wood to display the felt stones created by the group. His wife has said that she’d like to encourage him to do more work in his shed, and he’s asked me to give him more tasks to do. The skills previously learnt are obviously still there.”