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First Dementia-Friendly 'Memory Bench' Unveiled

Published Friday, 06 May 2016

The first dementia-friendly ‘memory bench’ in Lancashire was unveiled in Clitheroe today (Wednesday, May 4) by Ribble Valley Mayor Bridget Hilton.

Councillor Hilton is funding a series of ‘memory benches’ that will be sited throughout Ribble Valley over the coming year.

The benches will be painted in soothing colours featuring calming words and placed away from the hustle and bustle.

The first, outside the Ribble Valley Borough Council Offices in Clitheroe, is sage green and features the words ‘A calm place to sit, rest, look back, just be’ by Clitheroe poet Alison McNulty.

The bench is surrounded by roses, Mexican orange blossom, ornamental grasses, pansies and two types of lavender, all sensory plants noted for their aromatic and tactile properties.

In due course, the benches will be accompanied by information boards featuring ‘memory joggers’ and images evoking pleasant memories and feelings.

Councillor Hilton said: “Recent research shows that memory joggers and soothing colours, words or music are able to evoke a response or memory in people with dementia. For example, someone may have difficulty finding the right words to use, but be able to sing an entire song.

“Evidence also suggests that people with dementia are calmed and uplifted by certain smells, while the tactile experience of touching a meaningful object, such as a prayer book, plant or pet, may also be beneficial.

“There is a considerable local appetite for making life easier for people with dementia and their families, which has been translated into a campaign to make Ribble Valley a dementia-friendly borough, and this is the latest of several initiatives.

“I am delighted to unveil this bench and hope it is the first of many throughout the borough.”

Peter Anwyl, of the Ribble Valley Dementia Alliance, added: “For the last year our dedicated group has been working hard to help people with dementia and we are delighted to support this wonderful project, which we hope will be the first of many in the borough.”

Ribble Valley Borough Council joined forces with businesses, community groups and public and private sector organisations last year to establish the area as a dementia-friendly borough.

The council has hosted numerous dementia awareness sessions in recent years and has been working with the Alzheimer’s Society to develop a network of ‘dementia friends’ able to assist people with the condition.

The council’s reception staff have received training in dementia awareness and the council has backed a ground-breaking seminar on holistic therapy and dementia to be held at the Mytton Fold Hotel in Langho next week.

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