European Reminisence Network

Review of RTRT project: Northern Ireland (UK)

Northern Ireland RTRT

Memorable moments that took place in our RTRT group

  • “I found each session beneficial and very enjoyable, especially the dancehall days and the weddings session”

    One particularly quiet lady spoke at the wedding session telling us about her dress and her “wonky” shoes & said she would do it again if she could

  • One gent who attended the day centre made such an improvement that all staff in the centre noticed it and mentioned it to us. He spoke of the sessions and was more involved

  • All couples exchanged numbers and planned to meet again as their friendships had been cemented so well

The main things we have learned


Successes to build on:

  • RTRTWe need to work more closely with the local Alzheimer’s societies to ensure that a follow up service is there for couples after the programme

  • Carers can gain so much from consciousness-raising exercises in dementia awareness – e.g. an exercise in listening and not listening, mystery moments, delayed speech.

  • Couples enjoy being able to do things together again and to have fun together with the focus on the couple and not on the dementia

Pitfalls to avoid:

  • “Sometimes people didn’t get to say what they really meant because there was too much interruption”

    We need to anticipate any difficulties in separating the carers from their family members by ensuring sufficient volunteers to work with them on enjoyable and achievable activities to put the people with dementia at ease, as they can otherwise panic when their carer is leaving

  • When asking people to bring personal items in, we need to ensure there is time to discuss them

  • Recruitment can be difficult – initially getting people in the door

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


  • “Recognising that you can help people with dementia if you provide support and care in the right way”

    The need for additional time to be given for people with dementia to formulate responses

  • Reminiscence can be so simple and their loved one can usually respond to it

  • It is not just talking – it can be listening, watching, doing, etc.

  • Simple, everyday items can trigger so many memories

  • There is no need to correct factual information in memories (dates, names etc)

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


  • “I really appreciate this. I can’t remember the last time I was at something like this”

    They enjoyed the time spent as a group having fun and making new friends

  • They enjoyed being able to dance again, especially with their partners

  • There was plenty of laughter

  • “Every week was something different and it was all very good”

    They appreciated being listened to and valued 

  • They appreciated being given space to participate in conversations and receiving encouragement





Using the arts

Using the arts in our reminiscence groups

We used the arts in our group, including:

Crafts: we created cards of appreciation

Drama: we used drama in role-playing weddings and bus trips.

Drawing: we drew maps, family trees, postcards, etc.

Music: we had a musician and we used singing and dancing

Benefits: for some members it has enabled them to tap into a talent, which has lain dormant for a long while.

Music and dance and singing appeals to almost everyone.

Challenges: some members of the groups get nervous, for example about their handwriting & spelling not being good, or having shaky hands which detracts from their drawing skills and some people became frustrated.

People can be very wary of tapping into skills which they never felt good at, such as drawing, dancing and drama.


Products we made

We made Memory Boxes in one group and Life Story Books in both groups.

Future plans

Future plans

Plans for future reminiscence work in dementia care:

We wish to provide similar programmes throughout Northern Ireland.

We aim to continue with training in reminiscence and dementia care.

We shall work with Health Trusts, Care Homes & Alzheimers Societies.

Plans to develop reminiscence projects in other contexts:

Our organisation responds to the needs of groups and organisations and we are always willing to work in a wide variety of contexts and settings.

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

Reminiscence Network Northern Ireland

Alexey Janes

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.