Unwanted photographs, ornaments, records, books  and other everyday items from the pre-1960s could help to improve the lives of dementia patients at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital.

Apprentices at the King’s Lynn hospital are creating a 1950s-style reminiscence room to help older patients with dementia to step back in time and unlock stories from their past.

In turn, it is hoped the room will help staff to build a more rounded picture of the patient as a person and help with the management of their medical conditions.

The nine-strong team of apprentices is undertaking the project as part of the Brathay Apprentice Challenge 2014, which searches for the Apprentice Team of the Year, supported by the National Apprenticeship Service.

To win the challenge, apprentices have to prove their team-building, leadership, logistical and communication abilities.

The QEH apprentices have entered the ‘benefitting local communities’ category and plan to use a former ward area as a base to create a ‘Pop Up Reminiscence Room’.

With various painted backdrops depicting areas including a kitchen, a living room, garden shed and a bus stop, the reminiscence items will be kept in a mobile unit, ready for ‘popping up’ in ward side rooms as needed.

Apprentice co-ordinator Sharon Carter said: “To make the pop-up room come alive we need retro articles – anything that would encourage conversation and revive those memories of years ago.

“This might be items of pre-1960s furniture, standard lamps, kitchen tables and chairs, for example, or familiar articles from that time such as curtains, wallpaper, sweet tins, cookery gadgets and books.

“If any local people have such items and they can donate them, please let us know. We can arrange collection.”

Mental Health specialist nurse Sarah Reed said: “We are treating increasing numbers of older patients who have dementia in addition to their medical condition. Being in hospital can be very confusing and it is important to establish a connection with them.

“Very often a familiar item from their past or a snatch of music, for example, can open up a thread of conversation that will allow us to build a better understanding of the patient as a person.”

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