Activity boxes take patients down memory lane

Tuesday 22 May 2018

Three nurses holding up an activity box for dementia patients

Nurses at Guy’s and St Thomas’ have introduced activity boxes to help jog the memories of dementia patients. The boxes help patients take part in conversations with ward and community staff and carers so they feel relaxed during a hospital stay or treatment.  

Boxes contain a range of materials including paint sets and story boards depicting everyday scenes like a tool box, kitchen or seaside.

The story boards’ illustrations include a power drill for DIY or whisk from the kitchen cupboard and are simple enough to be completed by patients, with the support of ward and community staff or visiting family and friends.  

By taking part in meaningful activities, patients are helped to stimulate their memory and to build better relationships with staff, family and friends. This may help to reduce any anxiety they feel in a clinical setting.  

The initiative is being championed during Dementia Action Week (21 to 27 May) which encourages people to take action to improve the lives of those affected by dementia.   There are 850,000 people in the UK who have dementia, including 40,000 people under the age of 65 who suffer from early onset dementia.

Nike Tella, dementia and delirium clinical nurse specialist at Guy’s and St Thomas’, says: “These puzzles are a fantastic conversation opener and a great way for our staff to stimulate discussion with dementia patients who may otherwise feel lost in an environment that isn’t home.  

“This form of therapy helps patients to reminisce about past events and recall memories from their life that they have enjoyed. The activities stimulate conversations between dementia patients, staff and carers, and help patients feel part of the day-to-day activities they see going on around them.”  

The activity boxes, which are also available to people with learning disabilities, have been placed on 38 inpatient wards, in patient transport areas and discharge lounges, outpatient departments such as the older persons assessment unit and fracture clinic and at Minnie Kidd House in Clapham, the Pulross Centre in Brixton and the Amputee Rehabilitation Unit in Kennington.  

To find out more about dementia during Dementia Action Week visit our dementia and delirium team on:

• Wednesday 23 May, Atrium 2, Guy’s, 10am to 4pm

• Thursday 24 May, Central Hall, St Thomas’, 10am to 4pm

Last updated: March 2022

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