People with dementia find voice through student project
Students from the University of Sheffield are working with a social enterprise company to help elderly care home residents with dementia find a voice.
The collaboration between students in the University's School of English and social enterprise company Learning for the Fourth Age (L4E) is part of Storying Sheffield, a University project which enables students to work alongside people in the city who are often marginalised, misunderstood or ignored, to produce narratives of their lives.
The students visited care homes across Sheffield and used reminiscence and nostalgia activities to help give voice to the life stories of the residents. They incorporated images, objects, crafts and books in their one-to-one sessions to stimulate memories and conversation.
Student Isla Badenoch, 21, said: "You hear so much about dementia as an illness but you rarely get to hear from the people affected by it. Rather than focusing solely on their medical conditions, we wanted to give the people we were working with the chance to talk about themselves and tell us various stories and anecdotes."
Annie Kennedy-Blundell, 23, said: "Dementia is such a prevalent illness in today's society and we feel that more of this type of interaction is needed. Organisations such as L4A are very important within our ageing population and we strongly recommend that people get involved in such a rewarding project."
Dr Brendan Stone, course leader of the Storying Sheffield module, said: "We have created a strand in the curriculum that gives our students the opportunity to work in community-facing projects. In this case we are working with a social enterprise called Learning for the Fourth Age, who support elderly residents in care homes by providing interest and stimulation.
"It has been really rewarding and remarkable to see the way relationships have been formed," Dr Stone continued, "The residents really look forward to the visits from the students. It's remarkable how the students have engaged with this work in such a thoughtful way."
Jason Briggs, of L4A explained how the project helps the residents: "The students want to be part of a solution to the growing problem of dementia. While many of our residents are not always aware of what is happening around them, giving them this one-to-one engagement and time to talk about themselves is really important.
"It can make them more relaxed for the rest of the day. When people move in to care homes they get deskilled quite quickly, everything tends to be done for them. Giving them something to do each week gives them some meaning back.
"One gentleman is telling the students his life story and that is really important to restoring his self-esteem. The residents are very aware that the students are coming and have prepared notes and look forward to the sessions which are very different from visits by relatives and friends."
Notes for Editors: To find out more about Learning for the Fourth Age visit:
Learning for the Fourth Age
To find out more about Storying Sheffield visit:
With nearly 25,000 students from 125 countries, the University of Sheffield is one of the UK's leading and largest universities. A member of the Russell Group, it has a reputation for world-class teaching and research excellence across a wide range of disciplines.
The University of Sheffield has been named University of the Year in the Times Higher Education Awards for its exceptional performance in research, teaching, access and business performance. In addition, the University has won four Queen's Anniversary Prizes (1998, 2000, 2002, 2007). These prestigious awards recognise outstanding contributions by universities and colleges to the United Kingdom's intellectual, economic, cultural and social life. Sheffield also boasts five Nobel Prize winners among former staff and students and many of its alumni have gone on to hold positions of great responsibility and influence around the world.
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