European Reminisence Network

Review of RTRT project: Finland

Finland RTRT

Memorable moments that took place in our RTRT group

“We got so much positive feedback about the atmosphere in the Memory House, about the whole process and about the leaders and their good leadership talents”

A-group (2010-2011): Pekka, who has not talked for three years, took part in making a memory box with his wife Arja. He painted the back wall of the memory box although at first he did not understand what he had in his hand (the pencil) and what to do with it. He also began to speak, when Leonie sang a well known song about clouds moving far away: He said, “I myself sometimes move very far away”.

Sakari, who was afraid of new situations and was suspicious to come to the Memory House, said like in a poem: “From the night of forgetfulness the memories are bubbling out.” He also said: “This sort of activity is very valuable, because otherwise the memories will be hidden in a grave”. After the first meeting, Sakari came very willingly to the group in the Memory House.

B-group (2011-2012): Leonie had put postcards of domestic animals face down. Matti turned over one card and the picture was a horse. Matti, who spoke very little, began to tell about the horse named Raiku from his childhood.  It was clearly a happy feeling for him to remember that. He was nearly crying with that memory. The horse was very dear to him.

Erik, who did not speak very much either, suddenly began to tell stories of his school years. First he listened to the stories of the other persons, and later told his own. He needed much more time but when he got it, he spoke a long time. Riitta Liisa his wife was very astonished by his speaking.

Later Erik showed his humorous side. When Riitta Liisa told that they have got many children, Erik laughed; “They were born like kittens”.

The main things we have learned


Successes to build on:

  • The group took off very quickly

  • There was total equality in the group

  • The families felt that the atmosphere of the Memory House was very cosy, inspiring and warm 

  • The arts-based pogramme was very well suited to the families with persons who have dementia

Pitfalls to avoid:

  • There was too little time for each session

  • The sessions had not been particularly designed around the needs of men, but all the people with dementia in our groups were men and we needed to plan for this

The main things that the carers in our groups learned about reminiscence

Memory boxes

“The professionals also got a lot of creative ideas and material to bring to their units. The only negative feedback was that there was too little time”

They found making the memory box was very pleasurable and empowering. Carer Arja became very enthusiastic about working with the memory box. She put the memory box of highlights of their marriage in a central place at home and she was very proud of that.

The Memory box now functions as memory trigger for her and also for Pekka who likes to look at it very often and smiles happily every time.

The carers have noticed how refreshed and enlivened their husbands are after they have been visiting the Memory House. The good mood continues for the whole day.

What the people with dementia in our groups gained from the project:


  • “Good planning and evaluation, inspiring material, well chosen music, and of course good coffee with cakes”

    Humour was very important, as were songs and music

  • The people with dementia felt that they were appreciated in the group when they remembered and told their stories

  • The group felt like one big family

  • They were proud of participating in RTRT- project. Working together aroused feelings of success

  • They seemingly enjoyed being in the Memory House with their wives. And they were calmer than usual at home


Using the arts

Using the arts in our reminiscence groups

Art was used in every session. Music, objects, pictures, drama, drawing...This helped people remember more and more vividly, made the memories visible and stimulated conversation and communication.


Products we made

We made memory boxes, family trees, photos of their fulfilled dreams, scrap books of memories from childhood, photos from different sessions and our group picnic, and diaries.


Future plans

Plans for future reminiscence work in dementia care:

We will continue with new groups but we will also continue with our existing RTRT groups next autumn.

We also plan to continue our reminiscence theatre work, our training groups, a new photo / architecture-project, life story books combined with photos, exhibitions, and a book about RTRT.


These magazines featured the RTRT project during 2011:
Sydän-lehti 4/2011
Vanhustyö 3/2011
Pihlaja 2011
Libero 2011
Pellervo, joulukuu 2011

Our next RYCTT project

Our next reminiscence project can be viewed in the RYCTT area of the site: Click to view

Contact us

Contact us

Muistojen Talon Kannatusyhdistys ry


Leonie Hohenthal Antin

Varpu Vistala

Lottery funded

Co-funded by the Europe for Citizens Programme of the European Union

Lifelong Learning Programme

This project has been funded with support from the European Commission.This website reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.