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Care home appeal inundated with postcards from around world

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A global postcard appeal has helped dementia residents at a UK care home to remember holidays they went on as children.

Staff at Cedar Court Dementia Care home in Bretby, Swadlincote, began asking for holiday stories in July to help trigger reminiscence among their residents.

“The residents’ faces light up when we receive the morning post”

Louise Blakemore

Since the project began, the Derbyshire home has picked up handfuls of cards every day from members of the public who responded to the appeal on social media. It has received around 40 or 50 cards per day, and around 1,000 in total.

Managing director Vicki Weller came up with the idea after her family sent a card to all 10 homes owned by Your Health Limited. The idea subsequently took off, especially at the dementia care home, which has been inundated ever since.

Postcards were mostly from UK destinations but have also been sent from America, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, Taiwan, and Singapore.

Louise Baker, marketing assistant, helped spread the word on social media site Facebook to encourage the public to send them in.

She believes the dementia care home caught the “public’s imagination, perhaps because the cards mean so much in terms of dementia care and therapy”.

“The residents’ faces light up when we receive the morning post, and we have had some incredible discussions about childhood memories, travel and faraway places with people who might not have spoken properly, or at any great length for a little while” she said.

“The postcards have helped to inspire memories with surprising ease”

Louise Blakemore

Residents are engaging and communicating, because of the postcards and appear happy to talk through things they remember, said Ms Baker.

She told Nursing Times she thought the project had been so effective because it offered so much in terms of stimulation and enjoyment.

“Those with dementia often live in muddled timelines, but the postcards have helped to inspire memories with surprising ease,” she said.

“What’s more, residents are enjoying learning about different ways of life from cards sent from abroad, and are living vicariously via the adventures of others,” she added.

For example, one resident, Barbara, who lives at the home adores Blackpool and has told staff how she vividly remembers climbing up the tower to look out over the sea and town.

“She talks about Blackpool as if she has just returned, and makes us all want to be there too” said Ms Baker.

Other residents have been equally enamoured and relatives have even noticed how engaged they have been, according to staff at the home.

“Memories have been so vivid we can almost taste the sea air, and smell fish and chips – this is incredible considering the varying degrees of dementia that our residents exhibit,” noted Ms Baker.

Cedar Court Dementia Care

Postcard displays at Cedar Court

Source: Your Health Limited

Barbara and a carer look at some of the postcards

Staff believe the project has helped residents to be part of a wider, global community and feel the postcards have helped to remove those with dementia out of isolation and prove they are not alone.

For Ms Baker, her favourite part of the appeal was the different stories the home and residents had become a part of. One couple sent a postcard that captured the moment they became engaged in front of the Eiffel Tower.

The care home is accepting cards for as long as people want to send them and will continue to use them as a reminiscence therapy and communication aids for the residents.

Cedar Court said it was incredibly thankful for all the support the public had shown and have displayed the cards throughout the home for all residents to enjoy.

Cedar Court Dementia Care

Postcards displays at Cedar Court

Source: Your Health Limited

Cedar Court activities co-ordinator Gayle Kruczek-Stephenson

Cedar Court Dementia Care

Postcard displays at Cedar Court

Source: Your Health Limited

Postcard displays at Cedar Court

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