Deafblind Northern Ireland (DBNI) hosted an exhibition event in October to celebrate the recent reminiscence therapy work they have been doing with local deafblind people. The exhibition showcased pieces of work created by deafblind members to encourage them to recall and reflect on personal memories as part of a reminiscence project supported by Halifax Foundation Northern Ireland.
The DBNI team has been working with Reminiscence Network Northern Ireland (RNNI) to connect deafblind people with their past by using a variety of reminiscence therapy methods. This helps members to recall good memories through touch, smell and sound which, among other benefits, confirms a sense of unique identity. The groups created a range of work that sparks a particular memory. This included music, colourful hand art featuring facts about their past, and life books. The life books were a particular favourite amongst the members, as they are a record of their personal history with written memories, photographs and memorabilia; something members and their families can treasure and use to reminisce together.
“Reminiscence therapy is an effective method of improving a person’s mental wellbeing through the process of recalling forgotten memories using multisensory triggers. These multisensory activities such as hand print art and music therapy start the process of remembering, whether they’re sparked by the smell of the fresh paint that brings back childhood memories or by recalling simple facts like their mothers maiden name with the help of a DBNI staff member or volunteer. Sharing and reflecting on their memories with others of a similar age helps to reduce isolation and create new friendships as people find comfort and pleasure through common experiences.” Said Norman Mccudden, Project Manager for DBNI.
The friends and families of deafblind members attended the event to view the multisensory work, celebrate member’s achievements and learn about their often very interesting histories. DBNI also invited other local charities and organisations to help them learn more about reminiscence work.
Here’s what DBNI members had to say about the project:
“I hadn’t realised just how many things I have done and accomplished in my life!” – Jean Mackey
“When I started reminiscence I didn’t know what it would entail. I have enjoyed doing this and with the help of Avril as my guide, I have been able to complete this life book.” – John Nicholl
“We are celebrating our 50th wedding anniversary later this year and we thought the books will allow our family to see our life stories and listen to our favourite songs, songs that mean something to us and remind us of days gone by. It will be a permanent record for our children and grandchildren in the years to come.” – Jean Shields