Retro nostalgic street to help dementia sufferers

Residents enjoy a chat at Drummohr Care Home's bus stop. Picture: Toby Williams
Residents enjoy a chat at Drummohr Care Home's bus stop. Picture: Toby Williams
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WITH its traditional sweet shop, 1960s hairdresser and old-fashioned cinema, residents at a Capital care home are being taken on a trip down memory lane.

Staff at Drummohr Care Home, where half its 60 residents have dementia, have designed the mini-street in the hope of stimulating old memories and brightening its surroundings.

The nostalgic corridor even features a bus stop – and accompanying bench – so people can have a rest and a blether.

Julie Wheelans, whose 76-year-old dad Ozzy has lived in the dementia unit for a year, said it had put “smiles on all their faces”.

She said: “I think it has been a hit all round, everybody has been sat blethering away with each other. It has created a focal point within the home and somewhere for them to sit and have a chill out.

“Dad likes a chat about his memories and things that seem familiar so I think it is a marvellous idea.”

Residents will soon be able to choose which films they would like to be shown at the custom-made “cinema”, with Elvis and Cliff Richard titles set to be among the most popular.

A hairdresser who regularly goes into the home will work behind a shopfront transformed into 1960s salon so she can give her regulars a cut and set with the feel of a real salon.

Retro treats, from cough candy to cinder toffee, are being served by the quarter from a sweet shop, with a trolley for those less mobile.

Clare Gibson, deputy manager of the Wallyford home, said staff came up with the idea after observing residents who were often said to be looking for things.

They sought feedback from both residents and their relatives, who welcomed the concept, and Lothian Buses donated a disused stop and created a special timetable for them to use.

She said: “We found there were a lot of people who liked to wander up and down the corridors and many would often ask ‘where’s the bus stop?’ They were just looking for something, somewhere to stop, and we thought that this would be nice for them.

“They’re a lot more relaxed and less disorientated and there’s a lot less confusion because they’ve got a wee stopping point now that they need.”

Activities co-ordinator, Marie McLachlan, who raised funds to make the changes, said the feedback had been positive. She said: “Lots of families have commented on what a nice idea it is and the residents really seem to like what we’ve done so far.”

Professor June Andrews, director of the dementia services development centre at Stirling University, said there were mixed views about retro surrounds, with some saying it added to people’s confusion.

She said: “Anything that is done to make the environment more stimulating for a person who lives there is really important but we must not forget that people with dementia still need to go outside to make their life interesting.”