Scots home breaks the ice to help fight dementia

A care home in south-west Scotland has adapted an ice breaker game to help residents with dementia.

Staff at Mansfield Care’s Belhaven House care home in Troon in South Ayrshire have introduced ‘conversation balls’ to help encourage better social interaction and mental exercise with residents.

Random questions are attached to each ball which are designed to spark a memory or share a fond experience with other members of the activity group.

Mansfield Care says 85 per cent of the residents are taking part in the activity, which has seen a positive reaction from both engaged staff and residents.

The activity can also be conducted as a one-to-one session with a dedicated and highly skilled member of staff.

“It can be a comfort to those who have dementia as it encourages them to reminisce and maybe focus on different things that day. The activity also helps spark conversations with other residents who have similar thoughts and experiences and build relationships with others within the home,” said Belhaven House home manager Fiona Hunter.

“The activity also helps spark conversations with other residents who have similar thoughts and experiences and build relationships with others within the home. In the past we would’ve had large groups maybe 10-12 at a time, however during these last few months it’s been one to one with staff,” she added.

The conversation balls game is not only helpful to residents, but also to staff members who find it useful to learn about each resident and to develop long-term relationships.

“The conversation balls develop cognitive behaviour, but it also helps our residents get some physical exercise. The balls are thrown to each resident and they are encouraged to catch the balls, before standing up and throwing them to the next resident,” said Hunter.

“One of our residents, Sadie Fisher (pictured), said when she arrived at Belhaven House she didn’t know anyone, but the ball helped her start conversations and allowed her to be herself,” she added.