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Movement Memory Boxes help patients relive their dancing days

Published 02/10/2015

SAT on her bed surrounded by items related to dancing in the 1950s, Barbara Cooper is transported back to her own dancing days at Stockport Town Hall.

She picked up a spotty red dress and a waspie belt, and smiled. “Everyone had one of these,” she said. “I remember my mum even had one. It’s nice to remember it.”

Her memories were sparked by one of the Movement Memory Boxes which have recently been put in place at London Road Community Hospital.

The 81-year-old, who is from Ilkeston, is one of the many patients at the hospital, run by Derby Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, benefiting from this new form of rehabilitation, which is based on music, memories and movement.

There are several suitcases, with each covering a dance related to a different decade. They include the Charleston, from the 1920s, 1940s big band and the jive, from the 1950s.

They contain a CD of music from the era, pictures and props to help patients relive their experiences. Patients are helped on their journey back in time by the memories of previous patients, who shared their experiences of spending time on the dance floors of Derby.

Andrea Haley, lead artists for Air Arts:Engage, who put the boxes together, said: “It takes patients on a journey, from getting ready to go out, through what sort of dancing they did, and how they got home. The memories will bring people together, get them moving and, hopefully, bring about positive relationships and friendships. It can be very isolating to be in hospital, and this is something which gets people talking.”

The boxes, which have been funded by the London Road Community Hospital League of Friends, can be used in a number of ways, depending on patients’ capabilities, ranging from simply looking through pictures or playing the music to full creative music and movement workshops.

They will be used by the recently-recruited arts coordinators, as well as nurses, volunteers and other ward staff. There are plans to develop the scheme with the help of staff and volunteers as time goes on.

Matron Meg Haselden said: “The Movement Memory Boxes are a great way to help our patients reminisce about their younger days. They not only help our patients with dementia, but offer all patients a chance to get involved and start talking to one another.”


Memory boxes
Last Modified 02/10/2015