Helping Frank to relive precious memories

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Alive! applied to us for a small grant to buy two iPads and a projector, so they could provide 'guided reminiscence' sessions for local elderly care home residents. We awarded them £1,000 from our Express programme.

Frank* has late stage dementia and depression. He spends his days pacing restlessly around the Bristol care home where he lives. The isolation and confusion brought by the dementia has made Frank a ‘loner’ at the home, left unable to connect with his fellow residents.

Alive! presenter Nicola Taylor discovered that Frank loves old musicals and show tunes, so on a recent visit she used the new equipment to play him a video of Somewhere Over The Rainbow. Frank immediately sat down next to Nicola, with tears in his eyes, and said, “that’s beautiful.” Nicola then spent a very special half hour with Frank, using the iPad to reminisce together over his favourite musicals. Frank then approached one of the other residents, a lady called Diana*, and started to sing to her in a moving and gentle way. “To see Frank so lit up was amazing”, said Nicola, “some of the staff at the home were in tears.”

"To see Frank so lit up was amazing", said Nicola, "some of the staff at the home were in tears."

“Alive! is dedicated to improving the lives of older people in care by championing their access to purposeful activity and intellectual, social and emotional engagement. This grant from Quartet has enabled us to reach many more older people in care homes, just like Frank”, says Jennie Reed, Services and Projects Manager at Alive!. “Over the past 6 years Alive! has pioneered the use of touchscreen technology in care homes, using iPads as a tool for connecting with even the most hard to reach and isolated people. This equipment enables us to respond instantly to people’s requests, reunite them with their passions and interests and create an environment where people can continue to learn new things, share stories and make meaningful connections with the people around them.”

Care home resident enjoying an Alive! guided reminiscence session with a presenter.
Care home resident enjoying an Alive! guided reminiscence session with a presenter.

A sustainable future

Because the charity now owns this equipment they’re able to carry out this work all over Bristol and the surrounding area for many years to come. They’re also using the remainder of their grant to train around 100 care home staff in 30 local homes, building in-house capacity to better support their residents’ emotional and intellectual needs, and using their own devices to carry on the guided reminiscence as part of their everyday routine.

“Alive!’s sessions are proven to impact positively on older people in the expression of personal identity, enabling of personal choice, interaction with others and general well-being”, says Jennie. “We are so grateful to Quartet for their generous funding that enables us to carry out this work and reach even more older people.”

For the cost of a very small grant from us, Frank has been given an opportunity to connect with those closest to him.

There are many others like Frank, facing isolation and ill health in older age. If you would like to support people in your local community, talk to us about starting a named fund, or click to make a donation.

* not their real names.