Vintage caravan brings back memories

A retro-style ‘reminiscence’ caravan designed to help those with dementia has been opened by the Mayor of Winchester at Westacre Nursing Home, Sleepers Hill, Winchester.

Local residents, families and members of Alzheimer Society Winchester joined the Mayor of Winchester, Cllr Eleanor Bell, to launch an innovative new initiative intended to aid those with dementia at Westacre Nursing Home on Sleepers Hill.  Designed to bring back memories of traditional caravanning holidays for the home’s residents, Westacre has installed a vintage caravan in its grounds as part of its rminiscence therapy programme.

Reminiscence therapy is a treatment that uses all the senses to help individuals with dementia recall memories. The caravan comes complete with designs true to the decade including dark wood panelling, butterfly net curtains and a blue speckled fitted sofa along with vintage biscuits, a tea set and traditional games. The aim of the caravan is to help induce memories of past holidays and fond times for residents of the home, their families, plus those in the local community with dementia.

The Mayor of Winchester, Cllr Eleanor Bell, who cut the ribbon on the caravan to declare it officially open, says: “This is a fantastic initiative and it was brilliant to see how warmly the caravan was received by Westacre’s residents, their families and the local community who joined us on the day. I hope many people living with dementia will be able to benefit from the caravan.”

For most people with dementia, recent memories deteriorate first. However, through reminiscing and evoking memories, people with dementia can start to feel more positive and benefit from reduced stress and anxiety.

Many of Westacre’s residents have fond memories of caravanning holidays in the 50s, 60s and 70s when they were a popular getaway option. Westacre hopes the caravan will provide an effective form of relief for residents and bring back lots of fond memories.

The reminiscence caravan has been welcomed by the Alzheimer’s Society in Winchester. Sheila Ancient, an Alzheimer’s Society Dementia Support Worker, says: “This is a brilliant example of reminiscence therapy and we’re really excited that Westacre is bringing a ‘reminiscence caravan’ to Winchester. Reminiscing can provide powerful relief for people with dementia as it brings back good memories. The caravan also gives us a chance to get into their world, as often they can’t come into ours.”

Diana Hearn, manager of Westacre Nursing Home, says: “We are constantly looking at new ways to support and enhance the care we provide our residents with dementia. Revitalizing this caravan and transforming it into a space for reminiscence has been a great team project and we’re thrilled to make it available for our residents and their families to benefit from it.”


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