The Exeter Dementia Action Alliance was created in January and will be formally launched at RAMM on 18 November and is a movement working towards a society-wide response to dementia. RAMM has been working with people with memory problems, their families and carers for the past year and continues to run sessions at the museum based on leading research.
RAMM’s dementia-friendly Living Each Season activities were developed with support from the Alzheimers Society, the NHS and Innovations in Dementia as well as the new Dementia Action Alliance. The museum’s Living Each Season dementia-friendly activities are inspired by a ground-breaking programme at the Museum of Modern Art in New York which focuses on living in the moment. The RAMM sessions use its treasure trove of objects to provoke thoughts and spark conversations, whether it’s touching a 1,600-year-old Roman tile, standing next to a totem pole, taking a long look at a painting of Dartmoor, or making tropical butterflies.
Small friendly groups are lead by specially-trained staff and people with dementia and carers who tested and help create the programme said that they left behind their daily concerns, had a great time and went home with something new to talk about.
“The museum is a place people can experience together, find something new to talk about, and get away from the burdens of daily life for a while,” said RAMM Community Participation Officer Ruth Gidley. “RAMM’s Living Each Season programme has helped to raise staff awareness so they can give visitors the support they need and our specially developed dementia-friendly activities are available for couples and groups.”
The Dementia Action Alliance encourages and supports communities and organisations across England to take practical actions to enable people to live well with dementia and reduce the risk of costly crisis intervention.
“We are gradually building up our members and to hear of RAMM’s inspirational work really does illustrate the museum’s commitment to people living with dementia and their carers in the city,” said Gina Awad, leader Exeter Dementia Action Alliance. “RAMM’s approach recognises the power of ‘being in the moment’ with people living with dementia and the valuable contributions they can make to the rest of us.”
Scheduled activities at RAMM for people with mild to moderate memory problems and their carers include an opportunity to touch and talk about objects from RAMM’s handling collections tomorrow. This is followed by an autumnal art-making workshop on Thursday 26 November and, on Thursday 10 December, a tour of Whatever the Weather, an exhibition reflecting on how the elements have shaped our environment and our imagination.
RAMM Community Participation Officer Ruth Gidley and Gina Awad, leader of Exeter Dementia Action Alliance. Photograph by Matt Austin