Alive! Guided Reminiscence sessions are designed to help residents relive their most important memories. We guide using technology, images and objects to explore memories and spark meaningful conversation.
The internet is an unlimited resource for reminiscence materials and it enables us to respond instantly to requests, so the content of the session is in the hands of the participants. We use sites such as Google Earth, and Google Street View to reconnect with important places from their past, Wikipedia to pursue their interests and YouTube to search for and play films that residents recognise from their youth.
Reminiscing in a group encourages communication which enables people to learn about each and create connections based on shared interests.
Guiding reminiscence using:
B told me he grew up in Normandy. Not in France, but in Surrey! We searched on the iPad map, and sure enough, there it was. Switching to Street View, B and I spent the next half- hour having a virtual wander around the village; he showed me the lane where he lived as a boy, the common where he played, the path his father took to work and the yard of a familiar farm.
Then he described his route to school and we found our way along the old roads until we rounded a corner and there it was – his old primary school, much as he remembered it some 75 years later. B was absorbed in looking and remembering the whole time, his face lit up with pleasure; I learned something new, and he gained enjoyment from exploring his childhood haunts.
I got out a bar of the sort of old-fashioned soap people used to use, and Margaret told me that in the 1930s her family had run a successful soap factory. "The soap was wonderful, it smelt wonderful, all the fat would come in and we would turn it into soap."
I checked the package of soap in my hand and it had an advert on the side for a cooking fat they made. "Yes, it would be easy to make soap and cooking fat, it's the same basic ingredients, you see." She led the group for a minute on the finer points in soap manufacture from 80 years ago.
At the end of the session, she asked to keep talking, so we sat to one side. "Today has been wonderful. I woke up this morning and I didn't have a clear thought. My mind is clear now, it is focused. When can we do this again?"
I used an app to show a coal fire burning in a grate – people listened to the crackling sound of the fire and remembered being fascinated by the flames: "Especially if there was a nail in the wood – it would glow blue and green." said Alan.
People talked about lying on the rug by the fire, as a child, and watching the flames go up the chimney, flickering and changing all the time. Joyce remembered bath nights in a tin bath in front of the fire "One side of you would be red hot, the other side freezing cold." Jim remembered how he hated to have to go outside to go the privy - "You had to run the hundred yard dash!" – in the days before inside toilets…
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