House of Memories is an award-winning dementia awareness programme created by National Museums Liverpool. Our team offer training, access to resources, and museum-based activities to enable carers to provide person-centred care for people living with dementia.
Museums are experts at recording and caring for people’s memories. Using our experience in reminiscence work, as well as access to museum objects, House of Memories’ unique and innovative training and resources support carers to creatively share memories with the people they care for who are living with dementia.
2022 marks our tenth year, and we continue to expand our work on an international level. We’ve launched projects across the world, bringing House of Memories to locations from Singapore to the Scottish Highlands, the United States to York.
We were thrilled to launch House of Memories Cymru in January 2022, working in partnership with the Welsh Government and museums across Wales to deliver a dual-language dementia awareness programme that will include a range of training, app packages, and activities to enable caregivers to support people living with dementia.
Central to all our work is the My House of Memories app which allows users to explore objects from the past and share memories together. It can be used by anyone but has been designed for, and with, people living with dementia and their carers. The app contains pictures of objects from across the decades, which are brought to life with sound, music and descriptions and provide an easy-to-use way to help people living with dementia explore things that resonate with them.
Objects included are varied, including everyday things such as cinema tickets, a Singer sewing machine and a 10-shilling note. With themes including school, work, leisure and maritime, there’s a world of objects to explore.
It was the My House of Memories app which inspired 16-year-old Liverpool student Abdul Wase to contact us with the story of his grandmother, who lives with dementia. Abdul is a member of Liverpool’s Yemeni community, and his desire to help his grandmother continue to live well and experience her culture led to Connecting with Yemeni Elders’ Heritage, our exciting, intergenerational initiative that is helping young people support their elders to connect with their cultural heritage. The project has been developed through deep collaboration with the local Yemeni community. By enabling young participants to preserve and digitise stories from their culture, we’re able to capture a wealth of lived experience that may otherwise have been forgotten. Chosen objects and pictures will become part of the app in both English and Yemeni Arabic.
Of course, the COVID-19 pandemic and its associated restrictions made it incredibly difficult for us to carry out our work in the usual ways, meaning we have had to diversify how we connect with our communities. Connect My Memories is our tablet loan service, designed to support isolated older people in the community and help them to form new digital skills, connections and interests. Through the service, we equip community workers and volunteers with the kit, data and skills to support older people as they learn to use mobile technology. By linking older people to technology and culture, we hope we can expand horizons, increase opportunities and strengthen connections within neighbourhoods.
House of Memories On The Road, our new touring 30-metre square mobile museum which opens up into an immersive cinema and activity space, also allows us to bring our work directly to service users when they can’t come to us.
The first immersive mobile museum experience in the UK, it has been designed to create memorable experiences for vulnerable and socially isolated people and people living with dementia. The vehicle meets people in their neighbourhoods, at settings such as care homes, community centres and even local car parks.
Using digital technology, House of Memories On The Road recreates the sights and sounds of the past through a virtual ‘front door’. Experiences will range from a trip on Liverpool’s Overhead Railway and a visit to a 1950s grocery store to a virtual day out at the seaside or a forest.
By Carol Rogers, Director of House of Memories, National Museums Liverpool
Main image: Carol Rogers courtesy of National Museums Liverpool
House of Memories On The Road | National Museums Liverpool