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Mayor opens city’s first reminiscence caravan

A retro-style ‘reminiscence’ caravan designed to help those with Dementia has been opened by the Mayor of Winchester at Westacre Nursing Home, Sleepers Hill.

Local residents, families, and members of Alzheimer Society Winchester joined the Mayor of Winchester, Cllr Eleanor Bell, on the 14th August to launch an innovative new initiative intended to aid those with Dementia at Westacre Nursing Home on Sleepers Hill. Designed to bring back memories of traditional caravanning holidays for the home’s residents, Westacre has installed a vintage caravan in its grounds as part of their Reminiscence Therapy programme.

Reminiscence Therapy is a treatment that uses all the senses to help individuals with dementia recall memories. The caravan comes complete with designs true to the decade including dark wood panelling, butterfly net curtains and a blue speckled fitted sofa along with vintage biscuits, a tea set, and traditional games. The aim of the caravan is to help induce memories of past holidays and fond times for residents of the home, their families, plus those in the local community with Dementia.

The Mayor of Winchester, Cllr Eleanor Bell, who cut the ribbon on the caravan to declare it officially open, said: “This is a fantastic initiative and it was brilliant to see how warmly the caravan was received by Westacre’s residents, their families, and the local community who joined us on the day. I hope many people living with dementia will be able to benefit from the caravan.”

For most people with Dementia, recent memories deteriorate first. However, through reminiscing and evoking memories, people with Dementia can start to feel more positive and benefit from reduced stress and anxiety. Many of Westacre’s residents have fond memories of caravanning holidays in the fifties, sixties and seventies when they were a popular getaway option. Westacre hopes the caravan will provide an effective form of relief for their residents and bring back lots of fond memories.

Jo Bickford-Smith, the daughter of one of Westacre’s residents, said: “We’re so pleased Westacre have introduced the Reminiscence Caravan to the home. Mum and I spent many happy times as a family travelling to France, Spain and Portugal in a caravan very similar to this one during the seventies! We travelled from Southampton to Le Havre, Bilbao and Lisbon. It was lovely to be able to sit inside the caravan with mum and her grandchildren and rekindle those memories. Thanks to Westacre for bringing this great initiative to the home.”

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