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Sentimental Journeys: A Project in Essex Care Homes

Sentimental Journeys was multi-sensory and multi-cultural, and included music, song, stories, touch, smell, sound, and dance.  It involved a mix of performance and reminiscence work, with elements of participation that aimed to engage the audience through song or movement, working on many different levels as the range of dementia ran from mild to very severe. Objects used in the performance were passed round for the residents to examine – an African drum, a sari, bangles, finger bells, the Clever Stick, a shield made of goat skin and another made of paper.

A Reminiscence Box was given to each home that participated, including objects from Reminiscence sessions such as marbles, games, and a skipping rope, as well as objects from the performance such as Indian finger bells and bangles.

Promoting stronger and safer communities, this project provided stimulating social engagement and arts activity in a safe environment, providing an enjoyable shared experience for staff, residents, and relatives.

The reminiscence sessions recorded residents’ memories, which were built into the performance leading to feelings of pride and empathy. The audience included residents with severe dementia who had shown no previous signs of engagement in the project.  They were noticed to be singing along and tapping their feet.  It is well recognised that singing contributes to health and wellbeing.

The project included audience participation at varying levels, from singing along, examining objects or clothing from other cultures used in the performance, to joining in the dancing either on their feet or from a seated position. All elements were evidently enjoyable to the participants who found them very entertaining and at times, very amusing!

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