Patients transported back to the 1950s in Grantham dementia unit’s memory room

The memory room comes complete with period furniture, artwork and a replica 1950s television, designed and built by Trust volunteer Ron Rouse.
The memory room comes complete with period furniture, artwork and a replica 1950s television, designed and built by Trust volunteer Ron Rouse.

Dementia patients in Lincolnshire are being transported back in time to reminisce about life in their pasts, thanks to an innovative 1950s-themed memory room in Grantham.

Hardworking staff and volunteers at Grantham Hospital’s Manthorpe Centre, one of Lincolnshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust’s (LPFT) dementia inpatient units, have spent the last three months transforming the interactive space which can now be enjoyed by all the patients.

The 1950s memory room at the Manthorpe Centre in Grantham was officially opened by Trust Chair, Paul Devlin alongside Liz  Lester, Occupational Therapist, who originally came up with the idea.

The 1950s memory room at the Manthorpe Centre in Grantham was officially opened by Trust Chair, Paul Devlin alongside Liz Lester, Occupational Therapist, who originally came up with the idea.

Complete with period furniture, artwork and a replica 1950s television, designed and built by Trust volunteer Ron Rouse, the room is a quiet place where those on the ward can go to relax and reflect, and hopefully rekindle some happy memories.

Occupational Therapist Liz Lester, who originally came up with the idea, said the room will help encourage patients to reminisce about their past lives so staff can get to know them better and deliver more personalised care.

“The idea is to provide objects which hopefully get them remembering something about their past and to start a conversation – we use reminiscence as therapy and this can have a really calming effect on patients.

“Dementia care is changing. In the past, the focus was very much on the disease and impairment, however, the aim now is to identify each patient’s strengths and remaining abilities and to adapt the environment to maximise these - the 1950s lounge is a way of doing this.”

Liz, who has worked on the ward for around three years, said she initially got the idea for the room after sourcing a 1950s style fireplace which she hoped would form the centrepiece of the display.

She said: “This proved a bit impractical though, so instead I found a really nice sideboard, flying ducks for the walls and lots of other 1950s knick-knacks.

“There’s even an old wedding photo which is used as a prompt for creative story telling. We ask the patients to imagine who the people in the picture might be, where they were from and what they might have done for a living.”

Manthorpe Centre is an 18-bedded inpatient ward, catering for people with dementia, whose needs are too complex to be safely managed within the community.

In addition to the memory room, ward corridors have also been adorned with 50s style décor, and each bedroom door is painted a different colour, to further engage patients during their time in hospital.

The new room was officially opened by Trust Chair, Paul Devlin alongside Liz as part of a tea dance organised by staff on the ward, with patients and their families encouraged to take to the floor.

Mr Devlin said it was a privilege to open the room on behalf of the patients. He said: “When I walked in, it instantly reminded me of my own grandparents’ room – it is a fantastic place for patients and I’m extremely proud of all the staff and volunteers who have worked so hard to make it a reality.”

Acting ward manager Sarah White said staff also hope to create an interactive area for male patients including an indoor garden shed.

“We want to help patients by finding out about their world, who they are and what they like to do. All of this can help with their treatment.”