For those living with dementia, being able to take part in formerly loved leisure pursuits can often seem a daunting prospect. Fear of being misunderstood, becoming disoriented or even getting lost, can inhibit the hardiest soul.
If you are a museum lover, though, there are some brilliant and supportive sessions now being run across the country to help out. Many museums in the UK have recognised that those with dementia can still benefit hugely and enjoy their collections, with the right approach and a few carefully thought out changes to normal access arrangements. The list below links to a range of museums that have special dementia-friendly programmes in place; hopefully there will be one near you. If not, it’s time to start planning a trip!
In London, there are several to choose from. The much-loved V&A in west London offers free, bespoke dementia-friendly tours on the last Monday of every month. Artworks from a wide range of collections will be available for exploration.
Over at the Museum of Brands in Notting Hill, every Tuesday sees a ‘creative reminiscence session’ that is aimed at those living independently with dementia (a carer will still need to accompany them). Museum guides bring the museum displays to life with the help of products, sounds, and scents from the past. The outreach team at the museum can also visit care homes and community groups in London for similar sessions for those who cannot travel. And for those even further afield there is a great section of downloads here to jog the memory and provide reminiscence activities at home.
Also in the capital, the Museum of London offers guides and workshops that include object handling, singing and food tasting.
Further afield, Liverpool, Winchester, Manchester, Birmingham, Edinburgh and Bristol all have valuable dementia-supportive museums with specialised sessions to enhance visits. The Red House Museum and Gardens in Christchurch is particularly creative with its activities: they include Dementia-Friendly Heritage Health Walks; a programme of activity sessions, similar to ‘Memory Cafes’, named ‘Curiosity Cafes’; and a collection of mystery object handling boxes named ‘Curiosity Boxes’. See our list below for more links and details. If your local museum doesn’t currently run these kinds of events, why not drop them a line and encourage them to start? Or have we missed one you’d recommend? Please contact us and let us know; we love to hear about new ventures.
Dementia Friendly Museums:
Below are some great Dementia friendly events taking place at museums across the country. Click the links to find out the details. Always call ahead and check that the event is on, whether you need to book, and to check there will be someone there to help you.
V & A museum:
Museum of Brands:
City of London Museum:
Museum of Liverpool:
Red House Museum, Christchurch
The Whitworth, Manchester
This year Birmingham Museums will be expanding their dementia friendly sessions across a number of their properties including Aston, Yardley and Hall Green and the science museum Thinktank. Events should start in March and run either fortnightly or monthly. Check their ‘What’s On’ page for updates.
Bristol Museum & Art Gallery:
National Museum of Scotland, Edinburgh