Reminiscence Network NI gets funding to help elderly

Big Lottery Fund

A project which encourages older people in care to reminisce and record their life stories has been awarded a major grant from the Big Lottery Fund.

Reminiscence Network Northern Ireland aims to improve the lives of elderly care home residents by helping them to create a book telling their life story.

It supports older people who have been affected by bereavement, long-term illness or disability.

It is one of eight local projects which will share in grants totalling £3.2m.

Reminiscence Network Northern Ireland has been awarded £416,000 to continue its work with elderly residents in the Northern Health Trust area.

Project workers use multi-sensory techniques, including sounds and smells, to help people recall their past, including their childhood memories.

'Vulnerable'

The director of the network, Alexey Janes, said the aim was to reduce loneliness and isolation in old age, and to boost the self confidence of those taking part.

"Because of conditions such as social isolation, depression, low self esteem and poor health some older people can feel like they are no longer viewed as someone who has led a full life and who deserves respect and recognition.

"The book helps staff get to know the person they are working with, and the older people fell they are seen as a genuine person."

Up to now the project has mainly concentrated on helping people in care homes and day centres, but the organisation hopes the new funding will help it to reach out to the most vulnerable elderly people who have difficulty leaving their own homes.

Among the other schemes to benefit from the funding was the SHED project which is run by the North Belfast Partnership Ltd.

It was awarded over £480,000 to help older men living isolated lives in the north of the city.

It will use the money to teach them new skills and to organise activities where they can meet other men their own age in similar situations.

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