Created in 2012, House of Memories is a museum-led dementia awareness programme, developed to promote compassion, respect and dignity in care for people living with dementia, their carers and families.
National Museums Liverpool recognises that museums are experts at recording and caring for people’s memories – whether they are thousands of years old or within ‘living memory’. Museums enable people to explore and connect with their personal history and engage in relevant and meaningful cultural activity.
The basis of House of Memories was therefore inspired by National Museums Liverpool’s world class museum collections, providing workshop participants with dementia-friendly memory activities and resources to enable greater understanding of how information about a person’s history and life experience can be a valuable tool for positive communication and engagement.
Carol Rogers, Executive Director of Education and Visitors at National Museums Liverpool said: “The training programme was founded in 2012, and since then, it has gone from strength to strength. Even without the training, a visit to a museum or art gallery can unlock so many memories, inspired by the objects and artwork on display, but in addition to that, we passionately believe in the power of museums to change lives.
“House of Memories provides an opportunity to get people thinking differently, by understanding the benefits of art and culture and the value they can add to their work and lives as carers and the lives of those living with dementia. It offers resources to inform practice, transform relationships and enhance the wellbeing of people living with dementia, which is a universal issue in the world today, touching all walks of life.
“With diagnosis expected to double in the next 30 years, we will all be affected by dementia. It’s estimated that more than 850,000 people are currently living with dementia in the UK, and 670,000 people are acting as primary carers. More action is needed nationally to understand how we can support people living with dementia.
“National Museums Liverpool has over a decade of experience working with older people, and person-centred care is at the heart of what House of Memories does, acknowledging that an individual’s personal history and memory is of huge importance.”
Initially working with health and social care sector professionals in North West England, it has since expanded to provide training to more than 12,000 people across the UK, including family carers, to help support people to live well with dementia. Taking the training to other cultural venues across the country including London, Birmingham, Brighton, Bury, Nottingham, Newcastle, Sunderland, Leicester and Salford, demonstrated an innovative approach that is transferable to any town or city. Activities include an interactive training day with creative resources to take back into domiciliary and residential settings, and access to a free object loan service and digital memory app. Once a person has taken part in the training day, they can also access Memory Suitcases, which contain objects from museum handling collections and photographs to enable reminiscence.
Launched in 2014, the My House of Memories digital app includes a wide range of content from 1920-1980, designed to stimulate memory and conversation. This unique and innovative digital memory resource for iPads and other tablets, has been co-created by people living with dementia and their carers. It includes content from museum partners across the country, including the British Museum. Users of the app can also create their own virtual memory tree, memory box or memory timeline to share with friends and family. The app has achieved 25,000 downloads since 2014.
House of Memories is also currently in development in the US, working in partnership with the Minnesota Historical Society on a model of the My House of Memories app as well as dementia awareness training.
More recently, a dedicated, dementia-friendly website has been launched, signposting web visitors to the range of House of Memories resources and training opportunities available, as well as an online shop, where products can be purchased for carers to use to help improve the lives of people living with dementia.
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