MEMORIES of SAFC glory days are helping older Wearside men to cope with dementia.
A new programme from social enterprise Sporting Memories Network (SMN) is helping mental health workers use photos, memorabilia and match reports to help sufferers unlock special memories.
Whether it’s remembering Bobby Kerr lift the FA Cup in 1973 or recalling Gary Rowell’s legendary hat-trick against Newcastle six years later, the scheme is giving them the chance to relive their youth through the beautiful game.
The innovative approach – using services through Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust – has been developed by former dementia care nurse Tony Jameson-Allen, founder of SMN, and fellow director Chris Wilkins.
Ward manager Geoff Willis arranged for the network to go to Sycamore Ward at Cherry Knowle Hospital, in Ryhope, to deliver a training session for staff.
Along with the striking training guide, which contains iconic images of football and other sports, the ward has been supplied with packs of images of sporting legends and also received the first month’s supply of the weekly reminiscence newspaper, the Sporting Pink, which features match reports and sports results from the 1940s through to 1979.
Dementia seriously impacts upon short term memory, but memories from 20, 50 or even 60 years ago can remain clear if prompted by images or conversation, with sport being a powerful trigger.
Geoff said: “It’s often difficult to engage in meaningful activities older men we provide treatment for can appreciate.
“By using Sporting Memories as a framework most clients are keen to share their memories, and they become animated and passionate and have so much to tell you.
“We’ve even held a couple of themed events over the summer with included a Royal Ascot afternoon with form guides, betting slips and refreshments which saw patients placing fun bets for chocolates.
“We also hosted a Wimbledon themed day to coincide with the Men’s Singles Finals which has all the trimmings including strawberries and cream.
“Events like this have even impressed relatives as they have also commented on how animated their loved ones were reacting these special afternoons.”
The work with the ward was highlighted at the recent Department of Health dementia roadshow in Newcastle, which was attended by Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt.
Patients will be moving to a brand new purpose built dementia care facility called the Roker Ward, at Monkwearmouth Hospital.