Memory box pilot project with dementia patients in a hospital setting

Patients take part in an art workshop inspired by the seaside holidays theme at the hospital as part of the project.

An exciting new pilot reminiscence project is underway at Llandudno Hospital to trial memory boxes containing objects from the collections of Conwy Museum and Archive Services (Conwy County Borough Council) and Llandudno Museum.


This is a partnership project with Llandudno Hospital led by Conwy Culture Service together with Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board’s `Creative Well `- Arts in Health & Wellbeing Programme, Conwy County Borough Council’s Community Wellbeing programme, Venue Cymru and Llandudno Museum.


The project is working with specialist dementia staff to trial the benefits of reminiscence work with dementia patients and their families using museum and archive collections as inspiration. The project aims to improve the hospital stay for patients, promoting wellbeing through improved engagement and recollection using everyday objects to trigger memories. It is also hoped that the project will benefit staff morale and provide positive experiences for everyone on the ward; patients, families, carers and staff.


The memory boxes have been created by artist Ticky Lowe under the themes of home life, work life and play/leisure.

The contents have been developed together with hospital staff and include a range of objects that trigger memories using smell, touch, sight and sound.

There are three ‘boxes’ – a picnic basket, a toolbox and a bread bin, which include items such as postcards and photographs of Llandudno over the last 70-80 years, together with everyday objects like carbolic soap, ladies gloves, talcum powder, and pipe tobacco.


The opt-in pilot is running for a six-week period and includes creative workshops with patients and their families involving art and craft, dance, movement and singing inspired by the contents of the boxes. Two workshops are also being held in a community setting at Ty Llywelyn adjacent to the hospital as part of Conwy County Borough Council’s Wellbeing Activity Programme.


Artist Ticky Lowe said: “The three handling collections have been inspired by photos and objects from the Conwy archives and by conversations with patients and staff at Llandudno Hospital, I have used objects like soap and Oxo cubes as smell is brilliant for evoking memories. I’ve also used a mixture of songs and sound effects to go with each collection. I’m looking forward to finding out how the dementia support staff have been getting on with the collections and will be working closely with them over the next few weeks to find out what works and add new objects, sounds, smells and images based on feedback from patients and their families.”


Liz Aylett, Head of Arts Therapies & Arts in Health and Wellbeing Programme Manager for BCUHB said; “This valuable partnership project is forming an exciting new creative era for the benefit of patients at Llandudno Hospital. There is an increasing demand on our local community hospitals to care for older people`s physical and psychological wellbeing and to make their stay in hospital as brief and beneficial as possible. Such a creative intervention, alongside the medical care, offers an opportunity to support positive communication between patients and staff, aid memory impairment and celebrate reflections about past local history and own life experiences.”


Cllr Chris Hughes, Portfolio Holder for Communities, Conwy County Borough Council said: “I’m delighted that the Museum and Archive service are working in partnership with Llandudno Hospital to develop the Time to Remember project, our memories make us who we are. The onset of dementia is a time of great difficulty for families. The ability to share one’s memories, to smile and laugh with family members is so important as they come to terms with the illness. The partnership with the hospital is designed to stimulate those memories, helping families come to terms with the changes affecting their lives.”