Sharing Memories, Building Communities Project is a success

Paintings which were completed by clients who attended Wilson House Day Centre in Broughshane were displayed recently at an exhibition in the centre. The paintings were created as part of a project called ‘Sharing Memories, Building Communities’ which is an initiative funded by the Big Lottery.

The clients carried out a range of activities over a sixteen week period which was led by reminiscence worker Geraldine Gallagher. This included participants painting their favourite flower using silk paints, which they all thoroughly enjoyed. The clients were surprised by their ability to paint and the classes brought people together to engage in a communal activity, to reminisce and talk about the past while enjoying the opportunity to paint.

Geraldine Gallagher, reminiscence worker at Wilson House Day Centre said,

“Families of the participants were impressed to see the paintings and the range of work that their parents were capable of. Some of the comments ranged from ‘this is beyond magnificent’, a daughter of one participant stated that she had taken her mother to the memory clinic before she took part in the classes and took her back recently, she was told that her mothers memory score had risen from 22 to 28. The daughter congratulated the staff on their work, she was convinced that the classes contributed to her mothers wellbeing. Another son noted that his mother was agitated the night before the class but the night after the class she always slept well”.

The project also involves the promotion of service user’s life stories. These were compiled through visits to the clients own homes by Geraldine who worked with them to create a book of their life story.

Yvonne Carson, Senior Health Improvement Officer in the Northern Trust said: “The Project aims to address the needs and issues affecting older people with disabilities including social isolation, loneliness, depression, low self-esteem, limited supportive relationships and poor mental health and wellbeing that impacts on physical health”.

These works of art are framed and will be displayed for a period in the canteen area in Wilson House for everyone to enjoy.

The Sharing Memories, Building Communities Project is running over four years and Creative Reminiscence Groups are set up in six day centres across the Northern Health and Social Care Trust and the Project employs three reminiscence workers. The project, the first of its kind in Northern Ireland is a partnership between the Reminiscence Network Northern Ireland, (RNNI) and the Trust’s Health Improvement/Community Development Service and Day Care Service.

22nd November 2013

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