A trip down memory lane for Balhousie residents at Dundee’s Verdant Works during Dementia Awareness Week Scotland

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Residents from Dundee’s Clement Park and St Ronan care homes enjoyed an afternoon reminiscing about their cities historic industrial past with a visit to jute and social history museum Verdant Works.

The trip was planned to encourage reminiscence therapy as part of Dementia Awareness Week Scotland. With over 90,000 people in Scotland living with dementia, Dementia Awareness Week, organised by Alzheimer Scotland, aims to educate on dementia care as well as fundraise to help ensure nobody faces dementia alone. Residents toured the old Dundee jute mill and enjoyed a talk from Anna Murray, learning and audiences officer at Verdant Works, whilst looking at photos from across the decades.

Evidence suggests that reminiscence therapy for those living with mild to moderate stage dementia can lead to improvements in communication and psychological well-being and, in some cases, has been known to improve intellectual functioning. Participants also experience an increase in enjoyment by taking part in reminiscence activities.

Yvonne Manson, Balhousie Care Group’s dementia consultant, spoke of the benefits of the visit:

“The simple act of hearing stories and reminiscing about past experiences can mean that dormant parts of the brain become active, encouraging the residents’ ability to remember and reflect. For residents at our Dundee homes, a trip back in time at Verdant Works to learn more about the industrial past of the city that they grew up in offers them the chance to improve their sense of identity. Dementia may affect memory, but visits such as this can help improve their sense of who they were and who they still are.”

The Verdant Works buildings date back to the mid-19th century and are now owned by Dundee Heritage Trust, which also operates RRS Discovery. Verdant Works opened as a visitor attraction in 1996. During the 1900s, under the ownership of Alexander Thomson & Sons, Verdant was used to re-cycle large amounts of jute waste produced as a by-product of the industry, to cure rabbit skins and to deal in scrap metal.

Anna Murray, Dundee Heritage Trust’s learning and audiences officer, added:

“Verdant Works is proud to be keeping the heritage of the jute industry alive and preserving Dundee’s history. We’ve captured a snapshot of the past in the museum and it was lovely to hear stories from the residents about growing up in the city and the part that the history played in their lives.”