European Reminisence Network

Review of RTRT project: UK


RTRT Bradford

Memorable moments that took place in our RTRT group

  • The powerful effect reminiscence has and the positive impact the sessions are having on both the relatives and carers. 

    Feedback from Volunteer
    from working with a carer and relative:
    ‘Marjorie (relative) has a short attention span and her ability to interact is limited. I soon found out that she really enjoys reading so bringing out the old Be-Ro recipe book started to stimulate memories of baking. I also found out from Len (carer) that she used to sing in several choirs. We did some singing which she really enjoyed. I do feel that Len got a lot out of the project as well. He does not get out to socialise and said he enjoyed seeing Marjorie having a good time and having a good crack himself'

  • “I’ll probably talk about the past more instead of getting exasperated at repetition”

    “...not to give up on my sister. Because of my enjoyment on Monday, it gave me the determination to keep trying and she enjoyed it”
    Carer's feedback

    Seeing a relative knitting proudly and hearing her carer saying she hadn’t done any knitting for many, many years. This was a similar observation on two different occasions with two different families 

  • The positive impact that the sessions are having on carers and the improvement in the relationships between the carer and relative

  • The realisation that carers are starting out, apprehensively on a very new and uncertain journey: ‘I don’t feel very helpful yet. I am still learning about dementia’

  • Listening to the wonderful responses of relatives on the local radio, following a visit from a journalist to one of our sessions and impromptu interviews

The main things we have learned


Successes to build on:

  • “Loved the role playing (head teacher and pupils). Such a giggle and Susan you were a star teacher. We were such a rowdy group of pupils!”
    Carer's feedback

    That using the past creatively can enhance the present and that simple creative reminiscence activities are effective and fun

  • Poetry sessions can be stimulating and a lot of fun. Carers started off unsure but are now so enthusiastic they want to produce a poetry book

  • There is always a way to communicate with someone with dementia. One relative with vascular dementia finds it difficult to communicate verbally.  He was in his element acting out the groom, during a wedding ceremony


Pitfalls to avoid:

  • Over-running on activities and not leaving enough time for refreshments or finishing late.

  • Expecting that all relatives want to attend sessions every time. Sometimes they don’t want to go out

  • Having incorrect seating arrangements and having to move participants once the session has started.

The main things that the carers in our groups learned about reminiscence

  • “It was very good today. John said he really enjoyed it; praise indeed!”
    Carer's feedback

    Objects, photos, music and songs can trigger memories

  • Although short-term memory is lost, long term memory can be stimulated using reminiscence

  • Active listening is important in reminiscence and focuses on the relative which makes them feel special

  • Today was so

    Carer's feedback

    Everyday things at home can be used to trigger memories.

  • It helps social interaction

What the people with dementia in our groups gained from the project:


  • “I enjoyed sharing the memories and making the group poem. It’s been lovely. It has brought all memories back”
    Relative's feedback

    Stimulation and enjoyment

  • Increased self-confidence and self-esteem

  • Enhanced sense of identity and belonging

  • Opportunity to be sociable and interact with others

  • Enriched relationships

  • Improved communication and conversation

Future plans:


Plans for future reminiscence work in dementia care:

  • “Session went very well. People are getting to know us and, ‘opening up’”
    Volunteer''s feedback

    We plan to turn the project into an on-going programme of creative reminiscence activities for carers and relatives around the life stages, approaching the different themes in a different way to make it constantly fresh and interesting. Families can join and leave at any stage of the programme and not miss out any of the themes. 

  • RTRTProduce memory bags for the programme that can be taken home by the carers and used with relatives who do not attend the sessions

  • Encourage the group to illustrate the poems that they have produced

  • As well as producing life story books, the families will have the opportunity to produce their own memory

  • Provide training in creative reminiscence and dementia for carers

  • Possibly introduce the “Five Ways to Well-being” concept into the sessions as a ‘5-a-day’ programme for the mental well-being of carers and relatives: (The five stages are: Connect; Be active; Take notice; Keep learning; Give)

Plans to develop reminiscence projects in other contexts:

  • “Enjoyed it all but prefer the sessions where we are all together as a group”
    Relative's feedback

    Publish the poems produced by the group

  • Explore with the families the idea of animating elements of the life stories

  • Creative art/craft sessions, producing individual and group art pieces

  • Music and movement sessions themed around the life stages

  • Intergenerational theatre, young people acting out the memories of the group


Other UK groups

View the project reports from our partner organisations:
Woolwich, London
Camden, London
Westminster, London
Bradford, Yorkshire

Using the arts

Using the arts in our reminiscence groups

Poetry, making individual and group poems.

Making rosettes for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations.

Writing and illustrating memories about a local shopping street.

Dramatising memories through participation in creative reminiscence sessions (eg weddings, schooldays).


Singing songs related to the theme of the session.

Digitising photos and making digital collages for the life story books.

Benefits of using the arts:

Stimulating and inspiring.

Enjoyable and fun.

Can be as creative as you like.

Maintains hand/eye coordination.

Encourages social interaction and communication.

Increases self-esteem.

Produces a sense of achievement and pride.

Drawbacks of using the arts:

Manual dexterity may be limited in some users.

Some users may need a lot of support.

Products we made

Using the arts


Jubilee rosettes

Shopping street

Life story books

RYCT project


We have produced a presentation about our RYCT project:
Download presentation
[4.6 Mb PDF file]

Contact us

Contact us

European Reminiscence Network, London, UK

Pam Schweitzer

Lottery funded

Co-funded by the Europe for Citizens Programme of the European Union

Lifelong Learning Programme

This project has been funded with support from the European Commission.This website reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.