Making a difference to those with dementia

Tutor Ian Craggs second left leads an Active Minds session for carers and for people with dementia.
Tutor Ian Craggs second left leads an Active Minds session for carers and for people with dementia.
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A plan to trigger the memories of people with dementia has been launched.

A community group has found an exciting new way to supporting local people who are living with dementia.

All of the feedback we have received tells us what a tremendous difference this has made for people who are suffering from this cruel disease - sufferers and their families clearly place huge value on the sessions

Malcolm Fallow

The East Durham Trust is delivering sessions at its base in Peterlee and the project - which is called Active Minds - is already making a difference.

More than 20 people have already joined the scheme which explores memories using items from the past. It is aimed at carers and people with dementia.

Ian Craggs, who is leading the sessions, has 23 years experience working with health and social care industry, as well as being qualified in dementia awareness and support. He has five years experience working specifically with those suffering with dementia.

Sessions are held on Wednesdays from 10am to noon at Community House and use historical artefacts to help.

They can be anything from cameras to vintage household items, vintage film like adverts and movies, memory music and instruments and books.

Active Minds sessions began in November last year but the Trust has run arts and learning sessions under the Colour Your Life programme for three years.

Ian said: “I’m really glad to have been given the opportunity to work on the Active Minds project with East Durham Trust as I really enjoy helping those with dementia to get the most out of life.

“Our activities are quite varied, we could be watching TV adverts from the 1960s one week and trying on a Roman Helmet the next.

“I’m a great believer in making people feel valued and involved and doing things they really enjoy, helping them to maintain their individuality and dignity for as long as possible.”

The group, which has attracted over 20 members since joining, uses the items to help trigger memories and stimulate group discussion. Even partners have noticed a difference after the sessions.

Chief executive of the Trust Malcolm Fallow said: “All of the feedback we have received tells us what a tremendous difference this has made for people who are suffering from this cruel disease - sufferers and their families clearly place huge value on the sessions.”

Many of the people who have attended have reported improvements to their mental health and wellbeing and many partners noticed a difference after the sessions.

The Active Minds Group is part of the Colour Your Life programme which is funded by Durham County Council’s Public Health Department.

Anyone interested in attending a support group meeting should contact Yvonne Frost on (0191) 5693511.