Coronavirus Appeal Stories: Reminiscence Learning

Reminiscence Learning provides training for health care professionals, family carers, volunteers, businesses and community members, specialising in dementia care, reminiscence and activities. Fiona Mahoney from the charity told us how a grant from the Somerset Coronavirus Appeal for £7,000 helped them to continue providing remote support sessions for people with dementia during the outbreak.

“Due to the coronavirus pandemic we had to put a stop to practically all of our projects and swiftly reinvent the wheel. Our centre was temporarily closed and we had to adapt our services as best we could to reach our clients in their homes during lockdown. Like so many others, the situation has had a very negative impact on our income and fundraising opportunities. However, throughout this, we’ve learnt that we’re very resilient and adaptable, reshaping almost all of our services and at a rapid speed, learning many new skills – mainly digital and IT based – in the process! And although we have a long way to go, we’re very proud of the teams’ efforts and hard work through this very challenging period.

Once the lockdown was announced we knew we had to do whatever we could to continue supporting our clients and family carers in the local community. We started by offering them twice weekly care calls from different staff.

What we didn’t expect was the amount of people we would reach with our new live ‘Activity @ Home’ Facebook sessions. In the first few weeks we were reaching over 11,900 people across 20 countries – increasing our profile by 900%.

For those of our clients who aren’t technology minded we have a ‘Care Calls’ service, where our staff call our clients on a basis approved and agreed by them – for example, twice weekly. We provide a reassuring ear and offer support and advice to our carers who are struggling and are often feeling very alone.

Our clients and family carers have felt very isolated and alone during lockdown and we constantly strive to be a lifeline for many who are vulnerable and have no-one else.

One of our family carers and her husband, who lives with dementia, have benefitted hugely from the services we have been able to offer as a result of the funding from the Somerset Coronavirus Appeal. Following on from the ‘phone calls, we were able to encourage her to engage with our Facebook Live Activity sessions. She accessed these sessions every single day, twice a day, and they both enjoyed – and continue to enjoy – the range of activities, from cooking and baking to chair-based exercises and quizzes. They still tune in to our sessions now. She told us that because of the live sessions she never felt fully on her own with her husband, they have felt supported and safe and that she structured her day and routine around them.”


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