European Reminisence Network

Review of RYCTT project: Finland

An introduction to our project: The House of Memories

The project in Finland

"For me this was a powerful experience. It has helped me to think with gratitude about the good life we have lived together. And we still have a good life." 

A family carer

Finland was not funded to participate in the Remembering Yesterday, Caring Today Training project owing to pressure on Lifelong Learning Programme funds in Finland. Nevertheless, we have remained involved in the European Reminiscence Network, attending meetings and continuing the work we began in the previous project.

Leonie Hohenthal-Antin has offered many training courses in reminiscence arts across Finland and begun a new Training the trainers scheme which is operating across the country.

"You gain power and energy from listening to other people’s memories”

A family carer

After the Remembering Together project (2010-12) we continued working with the families because they experienced that creative reminiscence suits them very well. One of them said that being chosen to join our project was “like winning the lottery.”

The motivation of the families was very high: all the families continued to attend sessions at the Memory House. Family carers, whose husbands had died, wanted to continue alone because they felt the importance of being part of the group. Leonie and Varpu ran monthly sessions with families from both years (2010-2011, 2011-2012) so long as the families wanted. Last year (2013) a new family joined and this year (2014) again a new family joined us.

The programme

Reminisence sessions

View example sessions:

Example sessions
Click here

[PDF 206k]

Because we decided to continue working with the same families, we developed a new programme of reminiscence sessions, based less on the RYCT programme and more on celebrating annual festivals and national days. The group chose the themes together. In the box on the right, you will find two examples of sessions, one led by Leonie Hohenthal-Antin and the other by Varpu Vistala.

Responses from family carers

Responses from family carers

  • A sense of togetherness:
    Right from the beginning, we found how easily everyone became activated through reminiscence. The men with dementia felt safe with their wives present, knowing that if they did not remember, their wives would helped.

  • "Paavo cannot remember any more. I myself try to be an interpreter. We have more than 40 years shared life and I have heard many stories from his childhood. This functions also for me as memory training."

    A warm atmosphere:
    We focused on creating a warm atmosphere, joyfulness, humour, equality. The Memory House is a very homely place and creates a warm and welcoming atmosphere in itself.

    "From the beginning we are so warmly welcomed"
    "Here there is such a positive and warm atmosphere"
    "It has been so easy to speak with you"
    "We can speak freely here"

  • Mutual support:

    "These meetings are really important to us. Otherwise, we do not visit anybody anymore."

    Most important according to the responses is mutual support, meeting families living with a similar situation. In a safe group you can speak about difficult things and make new friendships.

    "Mutual support is very important"
    "It is wonderful to meet people with same life situation and fate."

  • "These meetings are really important to us. Otherwise, we do not visit anybody anymore."

    The importance of reminiscence to the families:

    Family carers pointed out very often that their person with dementia were much livelier on the days when they came to the Memory House. They eagerly awaited their Wednesday morning sessions and their more positive state of mind continued into the evening.

    "The timing is very good, he wants really to come to the sessions"
    "The project has given us a freer attitude to life.
    "My husband has really perked up. The project has had a really inspiring effect on him.”

  • "Childhood memories have returned particularly strongly”

    The importance of reminiscence became clearer to the families as the sessions continued. It is important to remember one’s own life especially in a house which is meant for reminiscence. To share one’s life is to become visible.

    "It is nice to hear other person’s stories"
    "All the themes we explore are interesting and stimulating"

  • Learning new things:

  • "This has influenced our home life, which now includes reminiscence."

    The idea of the project was to give the family carers a set of ideas and tools, so they could activate their people with dementia at home. Many reported that they had not realised before that they could do this.

    "We got from the reminiscence project good hints and ideas about how to use our shared memories in everyday life."
    “We have also remembered together at home"

Responses from people with dementia

Responses from people with dementia

All the people with dementia in our group were men and they responded to the project in a similar way to their wives.

But in their own words, they said:

"I feel very refreshed"
"I will cry when this will finish"

They spoke of the meaning of reminiscence to them:

"It is interesting to listen to other people remembering"

"An excellent thing"
"Without this the memories will fade out"
"The memories continue to rise up"
"It is nice to remember"

The importance of the group:
"A lot of girls, how nice!"
"A good group, we play together very well."



"It is the feeling, that you are allowed to express yourself in any way that suits you. It is the feeling, that you are free and you have the right to use your own creativity."

Leonie Hohenthal-Antin, 2009

Creative or Arts-based Reminiscence is really "a highly specific cultural drug" as Leonie has said many times.

It really suits the people with dementia because they can feel included, they can feel creative and they can feel "participants and experts in recent history". But you have to build up "the creative achievement" element.




Reflections on RYCTT

Relections on RYCTT

View a presentation which reflects on RYCTT groups in Muistojen Talo, (The House of Memories) in Kotka
2012 - 2014

Relections on RYCTT

Click to view
[PDF 662k]

Training Trainers

Training Trainers

For details of the Citizens' Forum / Training Program: Training New Trainers in Creative Reminiscence, contact:

Leonie Hohenthal Antin

Collages we made


We made together as a team a collage about different kind of sport and healthy activity. We used old magazines and photos and everyone told about the chosen picture, why the picture was attractive. The picture reminded us of sports in childhood or of sport dreams.

The other collage told about the positive things which had influenced the quality of life of participants. They chose pictures which they related to and told about nature, friendship, love, movement and food.

The group named it THE GOOD THINGS OF LIFE. 

Previous RTRT project

The previous reminiscence project by Finland can be viewed on the RTRT area of the site:
Click to view

Contact us

Contact us

Muistojen Talon Kannatusyhdistys ry

Address: Merikatu 3, 48100 Kotka, Finland


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.