House of Memories is a dementia awareness training programme initially created by National Museums Liverpool (NML) for the North West health, social care and housing sector. In 2013, the programme was developed and extended in partnership with museum, health and social care partners in Greater Manchester and the North East region (Salford Museum and Art Gallery, Bury Art Museum, Tyne & Wear Archives and Museum and Sunderland Museum and Winter Garden).

The programme seeks to broker new relationships and develop shared resources between the museum and health care sector, by providing participants with a unique dementia awareness education experience based within a museum setting. The project’s overall objective is to provide the health, social care and housing workforce with practical skills and resources that will enable them to support people to live well with dementia.

After a day of training, participants are supported by resources such as access to our free ‘Memory Suitcase’ loan service, complete with ‘how to’ toolkit. These Memory Suitacases contain objects, memorabilia and photographs relating to the past, that help trigger personal memories, allowing carers to develop a greater understanding of how information about a person’s history and life experience can be a valuable tool for positive communication.

The Northern Model project delivered the regional roll-out of the original House of Memories progamme to demonstrate that the model could successfully transfer, extend and respond to three separate geographic locations and distinct museum and gallery services. The programme replicated the Liverpool delivery framework which was delivered by museum staff and supported by local/regional content. Partners developed bespoke memory activities and resources for their communities.

The take up for the training day was very successful with participants recognising the opportunity for House of Memories to position their regional dementia care policy at a grass roots level. Participants left the training with a belief that by listening and communicating more effectively with people living with dementia, they can make a difference and improve the experience and quality of people’s lives.

The project utilises the cultural assets and professional skills of museum curators and education staff to demonstrate the value and impact of memory activity on another professional group. It is a unique approach for museum partners to position their venues, galleries and objects at the centre of a highly valued learning process. The creative collaboration between museum, health care and housing partners was outstanding and the project has been recognised for the genuine difference it is making to dementia patients.

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