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Making the Past Come Alive

While there are many who see virtual reality as a vital component of senior care, many believe that the real world needs to be reflected and made more accommodating to elderly residents.



Virtual reality seems to be an answer to many problems, and helping elderly care home residents to be happy in their environment is just one area which is coming to the fore.

However, there are some very real issues which cannot be dealt with just by placing a headset on. Many people in residential care suffer from sight or hearing loss. So, for all the wonders of VR, they are not going to see or hear the full effects.

For others, we are caring for a generation who are not used to technology. For them switching the wireless on means listening to the radio, not fiddling with the broadband router.

These are the care home residents who need other forms of help, support and assistance to enjoy their lives during what can be a scary, turbulent and distressing period. For these people, they need real experiences and outreach to make life better.



Nurse reading news to elderly woman

Nurse reading news to elderly woman

So, how do the best care homes get around the need to engage with patients and residents? There are many ideas, and from reading the latest news to them, through to setting up memory rooms and arranging visits, there are many ideas being used.

Recently one care home created a 1940s-themed “memory room” to help residents with dementia reminisce about times past. The residential home officially opened the living room and kitchenette to help people look back on their youth.

The room is decorated with memorabilia, artefacts and items which are designed to stimulate the residents. To make them look back and remember fondly the times of their youth and growing up. The memory room is designed to help people talk about their lives and the things they can remember from the past.

With old boxes, tins and items such as an old radio from the 1940s, the residents are transported back to a time when they were growing up. This stimulates much discussion, and people begin to chat about friends, places and events which shaped them.



For other care homes, the focus is not on general times gone by – instead they focus on specific events. Recently one care home took its residents back to the heady days of the first moon landing in 1969.

Carers and residents worked together to transform the care home into an out of this world spectacle with a gallery of the stars wall display, space themed food, homemade rocket-shaped bunting crafted by the residents, and a variety of astronaut and alien masks for fancy dress.

Whilst sharing memories of the moon landing, one resident, 83, said: “It was an exciting time; everyone just couldn’t believe that there had been a landing on the moon!

The care home, which is part of a larger Care Group, frequently hosts activity days and books entertainment for its residents, including visits from entertainers, day trips and themed celebrations.





While remembering a special event or time can bring carers, patients and residents together, some care homes like to bring in special guest performers to excite and entertain.

There are many acts today who specialise in spreading joy to dementia patients and elderly residents by touring care homes. Often, they perform a repertoire of wartime and vintage classics which lets residents relive their youth.

According to the experiences of the care residents, the music has a therapeutic effect on people living with dementia and triggers memories which sees them recall song lyrics as though they listened to them yesterday.

Even just small-scale events, and some special guests can do so much to lift resident’s moods and get them talking about positives and thinking about happier times. Good times mean a far better experience for those residing in care homes or assisted living.



If you want to plan a special day or themed event for your care home and for the residents to enjoy, there are a few key things to remember.

Tip 1: Plan for the day: Have a clear understanding of what you want to achieve, how and why. Have lots of discussions to develop the best plans that will deliver for all involved.

Tip 2: Choose a theme: Most successful events are built around a theme – this will help to tie the experience together and makes it easier for the residents to bond and begin to talk and enjoy what is going on around them.

Tip 3: Make sure you are organised: A well planned event is a successful event. So, have a planning meeting with all those who are going to be involved. Be sure to delegate roles and responsibilities. Decide and agree on the different activities that are going to happen within the home throughout the day, which will help to highlight and strengthen your theme.

Tip 4: Recording your activities: Make sure someone is on hand to take photos and video. Don’t forget to use social media, and even encourage residents to take part in that too. Make sure they know how many people are sharing news of their event, and perhaps families from abroad can take part and leave messages too?

Tip 5: Decide on a theme: Activity suggestions could include art, so have residents helping to make bunting or flags. There can be crafts, such as table decorations. How about a music playlist, encourage residents to pick the songs or music that matters to them?

Tip 6: Get excited and get people involved: Special events, or opening a memory room can be really positive experiences, so all involved need to build up the excitement and encourage others to be enthusiastic too.

What do you think? Would a special event help your care home residents? Would getting involved help to make for a happier time? Let us know if you host an event or create a memory room. We would