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Care home staff use ‘bum bags’ to help residents with dementia

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Northumberland care home staff are helping residents with dementia to feel calmer and more sociable through the use of the 1990s fashion accessory the bum bag.

Staff at The Oaks Care Home, in Blyth, have taken to wearing the bags filled with items to help the residents reminisce.

“All of us can change someone’s day through small things”

Ann Mielnik

Each bag has a set of vintage playing cards with different pictures, including animals, flowers and Christmas icons. They also carry two small pots of fragranced oils, such as coconut, chocolate, candy floss and toasted marshmallows.

As care staff conduct their daily duties, the idea is that they can stop and show residents a card or offer a fragrance, which has been particularly beneficial for those living with dementia.

The images and smells evoke memories which helps to reduce anxiety and improve sociability and mood, according to those behind the initiative.

Ann Mielnik, home manager at the care home, which is run by the Hill Care Group, came up with the idea and nicknamed the staff the “Butterfly Bum Bag Brigade”.

She said: “Butterflies are colourful, can flit around a room or be still, can change the moment and can brighten a second in someone’s life.

“That’s the idea behind the bum bags – to provide a spontaneous opportunity to improve a resident’s day with a simple gesture,” she said. “All of us can change someone’s day through small things.

“All of us will have had moments in life when we felt bored, lethargic, aimless and lacking in energy and these very simple bags help to change this,” noted Ms Mielnik.

“As well as the Bum Bag Brigade during the day, we’re looking at night shift staff carrying lavender sprays to promote a restful sleep or possibly packs of biscuits for a midnight snack,” she added.

Hill Care Group

Care home staff use ‘bum bags’ to help residents with dementia

The Oaks Care Home resident Frances Jackson enjoys looking at the vintage playing cards carried by carer Sarah Farrow


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