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Interactive reminiscence system helping dementia patients at Aldeburgh Community Hospital
08 November 2017

“There can be four gentlemen sat watching a Western movie one minute, then an elderly patient playing bingo with their carer or family the next,” explains Aldeburgh Community Hospital matron, Michelle Fletcher.

Michelle is talking about a new interactive touch screen system, packed full of old movies, TV programmes, songs, as well as activities, games such as bingo and exercise routines, which is aimed at improving the experience of elderly patients, including those with dementia.

Purchased for £6,000 by the Aldeburgh League of Friends for the hospital, from ‘My Improvement Network’, the digital reminiscence therapy system can reduce a patient’s stress levels by stimulating their mind and, as a result, can reduce the number of falls they have.

“It gives the patient something to do and normally, if you have a patient that’s up and walking and trying to go somewhere, to them they have a purpose,” explained Michelle.

“We don’t always understand what that purpose is, so being able to work with to them and find out what they like, what they enjoy doing and things about their life, is beneficial.

“We try and make the patient sleep better by stimulating them, giving them a meaningful day so that they understand that it’s been day time and that they did certain activities and now they are getting ready for bed because it’s bed time.

“A lot of falls happen overnight when patients are getting out of bed and if that happens, that can be quite disruptive to the other patients, especially in the middle of the night.”

Michelle added: “Recently we had an end-of-life patient that was distressed and needed someone with him at all times. He could not tell you verbally what he wanted, but certain music and films and the interactive aquarium that is on the system created a more soothing environment and he seemed to settle after that.

“This system helps to spark memories and enables them to reminisce which can help you get to know a patient and make it a meaningful experience for both of you.” All the content is pre-loaded onto the system, which also allows family members and carers to upload family photographs and memories for patients.

“Some patients can be quite withdrawn and don’t communicate much verbally and sometimes it is difficult to gauge anything about their lives, so to show them things that may stimulate a facial reaction is essential,” Michelle added.

“It can help patients interact with each other too and you will sometimes find four gentlemen sat together watching a Western movie, which can create conversation, while bingo is a favourite with our female patients.”