National Museums’ dementia-friendly social club proves a big hit

The National Museums of Scotland has launched a social club for people living with dementia and Alzheimer’s to help them enjoy the exhibitions stress-free.

Tuesday, 26th November 2019, 6:00 am
Edinburgh residents with dementia are “delighted” with the National Museum of Scotland's new tours specially designed to help people with the condition access the cities exhibitions.

The project nicknamed “Museum Socials” aims to make Edinburgh’s exhibitions more accessible by offering relaxed monthly events for people with dementia or Alzheimer’s and their families to attend.

The club’s itinerary features different activities inspired by the artefacts on display and uses curator expertise, music, games and handling objects to make the displays more accessible.

Donald MacLeod, 82, from Edinburgh is a former diplomat and was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 2015, he attended the social club Friday last week with his wife Rosemary.

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Mr MacLeod’s wife said: “We love learning about things, you’re never too old to learn and the social club is great to find interesting things to do to fill your days.

“Alzheimer’s is a life-changing diagnosis with lots of twists and turns and can be very isolating.

“It’s a challenge to make life stimulating and interesting which is why we enjoy these events so much.”

The morning social started off with a cup of tea or coffee as well as biscuits and a chat followed by a talk from Dr Tacye Phillips on the new Luxury of Time: Clocks from 1550-1750.

Participants then enjoyed a general knowledge quiz about clocks which included some nostalgic singing of Bill Haley’s Rock Around the Clock and finally a guided tour of the exhibitions.

Also joining the Friday morning social was Iain Abbot, 71, a former architect who lives in Joppa with his wife Rosemary.

Mr Abbot was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 2010 and said that he particularly enjoyed being able to handle the objects as it helped him follow the talks during the day.

He said: “It’s good to have the objects as it helps to explain things if you’re not sure about what has been said in the talk.”

His wife Rosemary added: “As a carer, it can be quite isolating so it’s great to be able to have something interesting and stimulating to come out to and to meet up with people who are going through similar things.”

Jane Miller, community engagement officer at the National Museums Scotland, said: “These new external outreach sessions, funded by players at the People’s Postcode Lottery mean that we can enable people who may not be able to visit us to have a cultural experience that is enjoyable and stimulating and which lets them, and their families or carers make important social connections with others in similar circumstances.”