European Reminisence Network

Review of RTRT project: UK

Asian elders group at Ash Green Day Centre: Woolwich


Memorable moments that took place in our RTRT group

  • “Participants expressed pride that their wall-hanging had pride of place in the day centre.

    They were very pleased when we asked if we could borrow it to display at an international conference in London”

    The first time two ladies, who had been hostile to the idea of reminiscence as they feared reopening painful pasts, decided to join in and smiled with pleasure

  • The willingness of the members of the group to enter roles and perform an Indian wedding

  • The moment when a lady who had previously seemed sleepy and uninterested, started to speak and respond when we found that our project artists could speak to her in Bangali (her language) whereas before she had been isolated

  • The moment when a lady who had had a stroke and could only use one arm, joined enthusiastically in the sewing activity, using her teeth to cut the thread and managing to sew with one hand

  • The joint pride all expressed when they first saw their wall-hanging in its complete form

The main things we have learned

A sewn wall-hanging made by the elders with with Madhumita Bose, an Indian artist with much experience of working with older people with dementia

Successes to build on:

  • We learned that it is possible to work with a group speaking different languages, provided there is language support and care is taken for everyone to understand what everyone else has said. This necessitates much time, but it is absolutely worth the effort

  • We also learned that health service staff were willing to support our initiative of working with ethnic elders with dementia, and saw it as a valuable addition to their on-going work

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

A sewn wall-hanging made by the elders with with Madhumita Bose, an Indian artist with much experience of working with older people with dementia

  • They saw how enthusiastically their day centre users were able to respond to the different topics and activities in the reminiscence sessions

  • They were surprised that the elders accepted the offer of making a wall-hanging with the artist, Madhumita Bose, and contributing their sewing skills and their ideas

  • We need to build in some follow-on support for the day centre staff, because there was a reluctance on their part to take this work further without us

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


  • “When one lady heard that we would take the wall-hanging to Finland to show our European colleagues, she made an extra little piece of embroidery (there on the spot) especially for us to take and show, and went late to lunch as she wanted it to be complete”

    They got to know each other much better through the reminiscence sessions

  • They showed a lot more sense of being a group, sitting in a circle and mixing men and women, where before they had sat apart and separately

  • They laughed and sang a lot and felt in a party spirit

  • They were able to show their skills and feel pride in their joint work

Future plans

  • We would like to undertake further reminiscence work in dementia care with ethnic minority elders, funding permitting


Other UK groups

View the project reports from our partner organisations:
Woolwich, London
Camden, London
Westminster, London
Bradford, Yorkshire

Using the arts

Using the arts in our reminiscence groups

We used the arts in several ways, including:

Drama:  this was used when we enacted a wedding ceremony, with members of the group playing all the roles. They chose a very blond young Polish volunteer (Anna Kirow) to play the bride.

Music: There was spontaneous singing in many sessions, though not everyone could participate because of different languages and cultures in the group.

Sewing and embroidery:  Many of the participants had earned their living from sewing and they were happy to use these skills. Working on the wall-hanging, they learned more about one another’s lives and the piece included messages from each participant.

Benefits of using the arts: it was a way of overcoming language issues, as everyone could contribute to the creative tasks and express themselves non-verbally.

Using the arts

Products we made

A sewn wall-hanging made by the elders with with Madhumita Bose, an Indian artist with much experience of working with older people with dementia.

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

European Reminiscence Network, London, UK

web www.europeanreminiscence

Pam Schweitzer

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.