A care home has dramatically improved the life of its Alzheimer’s patients – by creating a 1950s ‘time warp’ room which reminds them of happier times.
The ‘Reminiscence Room’ features classic Bakelite furniture, a gramophone, wireless and a typewriter.
Carers say the sitting room helps to calm patients by transporting them back to ‘the good old days’, bringing fond memories flooding back.
Bosses at Coombe End Court, in Marlborough, Wilts., claim the creation has led to a dramatic drop in the use of anti-psychotic drugs taken to combat Alzheimer’s.
Manager Sue Linsley said: ”The Reminiscence Room plays an important role in reducing the use of medication – it’s very, very effective.
”The aim of the room is to help dementia sufferers tap more easily into memories from their past, triggering more memories that can give them a grounding when they may be confused.
”The gramophone, the Bakelite telephone – the residents can remember these things.
”They evoke memories of happy times of bringing up children and it provokes conversation about the past.
”Our clients can come in and it calms them down. This unit proves that you don’t need to use anti-psychotics all the time.
”It’s a working room – not just for show – the staff use it as an integral part of their care.”
The care home, run by the Orders of St John Care Trust, caters for 60 residents of which a third are suffering from severe dementia.
Bosses decided to redecorate the lounge in the style of a 1950s home and staff scoured markets and antique stores and appealed for donations of period furniture.
Among the objects collected were three flying ducks, a vacuum cleaner and even a post-war pram.
A 50s-style office space equipped with a desk, manual typewriter and hat-stand followed, along with black and white photographs to trigger a trip down memory lane.
The only clue to the room’s real age are the plug sockets in the walls.
Staff said they had even trialled ‘doll therapy’ where Alzheimer’s patients cuddled the toys from the reminiscence room and took them out for walks to try and stir memories.
Claire Walters, the home’s unit manager, said: ”We’ve got a pram and we’ve got four babies for doll therapy.
”The residents love to cuddle the babies and when the weather is nice they can take the pram outside and go for a walk with it.
”Years ago if somebody was upset and distressed in the night, you’d give them a tablet but now we bring them into these rooms and we talk to them.
”We go over their life history and within an hour they’re completely calm and happy.”
The home says their ground-breaking techniques are putting them ahead of Government calls to reduce the use of anti-psychotic drugs.
A Government-commissioned review last month found 145,000 people with dementia were being wrongly prescribed anti-psychotic drugs, which cause 1,800 deaths a year.