Reminiscence arts

Age Exchange working with residents at Greenvale Specialist Care Unit, LambethAge Exchange working with residents at Greenvale Specialist Care Unit, LambethAge Exchange working with residents at Greenvale Specialist Care Unit, LambethAge Exchange working with residents at Greenvale Specialist Care Unit, LambethEveryday objects can stimulate memoriesEveryday objects can stimulate memoriesMusic and dancing as a trigger for memoriesMusic and dancing as a trigger for memories

Reminiscence Arts to improve the quality of life of people with dementia


The care of older people in this country has been under the spotlight with reports produced by the Care Quality Commission, Age UK and others, highlighting failings in the current health and care system. Issues such as lack of dignity, social isolation and poor quality of life are key concerns, particularly for those people living with dementia. Based on the National Dementia Strategy there are over 12,000 older people living with dementia in Lambeth and Southwark and more than 100,000 across the whole of London.


A new programme led by Age Exchange aims to improve the quality of life of over 6,000 older people living with dementia across Lambeth and Southwark, through the implementation of an intensive programme combing reminiscence and participatory arts practice, to be delivered in care homes, hospitals and community settings across Southwark and Lambeth.


The three year programme 'Reminiscence Arts and Dementia - Impact on Quality of Life (RADIQL)' will involve reminiscence arts practitioners working to engage participants in arts and reminiscence activities using a range of stimuli such as: music, dance, museum artefacts, sensory materials, as well as photography and film.


The intervention aims to improve mood and self-esteem and reduce levels of isolation, unhappiness and depression. The activities - which may be in a group, or one to one sessions - will promote social interaction and introduce creativity into the everyday lives of carers and older people. In addition, the project will provide activities in Healthy Ageing Cafés, a support group for carers, and on-going mentoring and training for carers in reminiscence and arts based methodology.


A formal evaluation by King's College London and Royal Holloway University of London will compare the impact on a group of participants against a control group - using recognised metrics to measure mood, behaviour and psychological disturbance and quality of life. The evaluation will consider the benefits of arts and reminiscence activity to older participants with dementia. The aim is to evidence the impact on quality of life and also the cost effectiveness of such interventions.


RADIQL has been developed following consultation with senior level nursing staff at Guy's and St Thomas' NHS Foundation Trust, the dementia units at, South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust, and local GPs. The programme also has the backing of Alzheimer's Lambeth and Southwark, who have helped shape the outreach elements.


The initiative has been funded with a grant of £595,500 in line with our ambitions to improve the health and wellbeing of the population of Lambeth and Southwark. The initiative also fits with our focus on mental ill health and treating the 'whole' person.
Following the initial two years of practice, and informed by the evaluation, Age Exchange plan to create a new professional role of Reminiscence and Creative Carer as part of plans to embed the new approach across SE London and more widely.