Brian Norris, left, with Helen Wharam, centre, handing DVDs to Frances Lemmer, First Assistant at Honiton Library [photo courtesy of Rosie Aplin]

Copies of new DVD designed to bring memories back to life for people with dementia given to Honiton and Colyton libraries

East Devon District Council’s Public Health Project Officer, Helen Wharam has been working closely with the Living Memories CIC project to help it gain the necessary financial support to produce and distribute DVDs aimed at people with dementia within two East Devon libraries in Honiton and Colyton.

The production costs of the DVDs – enabling them to be donated to local libraries - was covered by a £700 grant received from Devon County Council’s Locality Budget Fund. The grant will also be used to donate sets of DVDs to other organisations such as Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital and some local care homes.

In addition to co-ordinating the funding, Helen introduced Living Memories to Libraries Unlimited, the charity responsible for running Devon Libraries, who spotted the value of making the DVDs widely available, particularly during the Active Life Active Mind annual programme of library events in Devon, held in October.

Colyton-based couple Leonore and Brian Norris, established Living Memories CIC to create visual reminiscence resources, using their own large film archive of British social and industrial life from the 1940s–70s, for people with dementia to watch with their carers. The archive covers social life including the family, home and work, domestic appliances, leisure time, shops and shopping, the car, as well as industrial locations and manufacturing processes.

The first three titles in the “Living Memories” series are now available in DVD format and each one comes with an accompanying guide, which suggests prompts for a carer to use to help trigger memories in the person with dementia.

Tested in memory cafés and care homes, as well as with Age UK and other organisations, The Living Memories resources have even been shortlisted for a Nursing Times 2017 award.

Helen Wharam said:

We all work hard to support health and reduce inequalities across East Devon. The Government wishes to see that the UK will be the best country in the world for dementia care and support and for people with dementia, their carers and families. Living Memories CIC attended one of East Devon’s Working Together events and all the voluntary organisations attending were impressed with the use of visual aids about past times.

There is increasing awareness of the problems faced by those living with dementia - including social isolation, not just for the individual but also for their carer. We are very pleased that Living Memories CIC are enabling as many people as possible to access these reminiscence resources from local public libraries.

Commenting on the DVDs, Leonore Norris said:

These films draw people out of themselves. People who would otherwise be silent suddenly become animated as they reminisce.

Husband Brian said:

It’s about asking the right questions to trigger memories. If you can find a memory hook, such as a phase of their life that the patient is interested in, you can go back to it time and again.

Colin Bray, Libraries Unlimited Service Development Manager for Health and Wellbeing said:

As a community-focused charity, we have a commitment to provide a range of services and facilities that promote positive health and wellbeing, to support people across Devon. We are sure that these new resources will be well used and appreciated by the community, and will complement the Reading Well dementia book collections that we stock in all of our libraries. We were very grateful to receive this donation from Living Memories CIC, particularly as the DVDs were ideal for the Active Life Active Mind, programme of events promoting positive health and wellbeing that we ran throughout October.

More information is available on the Living Memories  website.