National Memory Day 2017

National Memory Day 2017

Bromley dementia services celebrated National Memory Day on Thursday 18th May during Dementia Awareness Week 2017, with poetry events for people with dementia and their carers.

Writer Nichola Charalambou ran one poetry workshop at MindCare Dementia Support Centre and the second workshop at St. Edmund’s Church Hall Dementia Café.

At MindCare Dementia Support Centre in Beckenham, Nichola ran an intimate poetry group with people living with dementia who attend the centre to take part in activities with other people.

National Memory Day 2017 at MindCare Dementia Support in Beckenham, Bromley

Poems included ‘It Was Long Ago’ by Eleanor Farjeon, a British poet and children’s author, who wrote at the time of WW1, where she remembers summer time in her early childhood. Other poem topics included Saturday Night Dance and The Diamond Jubilee.

National Memory Day 2017 at MindCare Dementia Support in Beckenham, Bromley

The groups eagerly chatted about childhood memories of long summer holidays, young adulthood relationships and romances and memories of the Queen and the Royal family.

In the afternoon, St. Edmund’s Church Hall in Beckenham, hosted a poetry dementia café attended by 40 people. In addition to reading and sharing thoughts on poems chosen by Nichola, people with dementia and their carers shared their own poems that they had written about the joys and mysteries of life, caring and loved ones lost to dementia. Some carers also shared published poems from their family members.

Lady reading her poem at St Edmunds Dementia Cafe

Jacqui Cross (pictured below), who cares for her husband who has dementia, shared poems she had written about her experience:


The Thief In Our House

There’s a thief in our house, he’s not after our wealth.
He’s creeping about with incredulous stealth.
Little by little he’s making his play
What part of my husband will vanish today?

He’s feasting on brain cells, he steals some each day
But where does he take them no person can say.
They just disappear with astonishing speed
No care for the victim, no care for his need.

The memories are fading like evening light,
But sometime that evening will turn into night.
No sweet recollections of happier days
But still distant thoughts of the old childhood ways.

I wash him, I feed him, his skills are long gone.
I spend sleepless nights and sit with him ‘til dawn.
He still is my darling and come what may
That dastardly thief cannot take that away.

This thief has a name, it’s really quite chilling,
His victims are random and they never are willing.
He’ll do all he can just to make your life hard
But he’s not a thief to just chuck into the yard!

He’ll linger and wait ever watching his bait,
What bit shall I pilfer today?
But however he’s cursed, he will show you his worst
This Dementia just won’t go away.


Jacqui reading her poem about caring for her husband

Jacqui reads her poems about caring for her husband with dementia


Speaking about the benefits of such events for dementia carers, Jacqui said,

“Not many people understand dementia and what caring involves if they have no personal experience. I care for my husband 24/7 and it is a wonderful break for me to come to dementia cafés like this, with other people who have similar caring experiences and who understand. I am very grateful for the chance to share poetry that has helped me in caring for my husband.”

National Memory Day logo

National Memory Day was established by a partnership comprising literature development charity Literature Works, The University of Plymouth, The Poetry Archive and the Alzheimer’s Society. Its aim is to promote the importance of poetry as a therapy for memory loss, raising funds to enable practicing poets to deliver poetry workshops in Memory Cafés whilst at the same time helping to generate further public awareness of the condition of dementia.

Heather Soderlind of Literature Works said,

“This year was the first year the partnership commemorated National Memory Day and we were delighted that we were able to support Bromley Dementia Support Hub to stage such clearly successful and well attended events.”

Living Well with Dementia

Living Well with Dementia

Bromley-wide dementia support services focus on helping people to live as well as possible with dementia.

A dementia diagnosis is life changing for the person diagnosed, family carers and friends. There is currently no cure for dementia. It can take time for everyone affected to come to terms with the diagnosis. Dementia is a challenging illness but by adapting your lifestyle, finding the right support for you as soon as possible, you can still live well with dementia.

Keeping your mind and body active are incredibly important in living as well as possible with dementia and doing the things you want to do for as long as possible.

The Benefits of Dementia Support

MindCare Dementia Support runs a specialist dementia centre in Beckenham, where people living with dementia can interact with other people and engage in stimulating indoor and outdoor activities. The daughter of a MindCare client recently emailed them about how her mother benefited from attending the dementia support centre:

“Just a little note to say thank you for all the help, attention and encouragement you give my mum.
As I don’t live near my mum, we have daily telephone conversations and there is a marked difference in her voice on the days she attends the MindCare Centre.  The tone of her voice is upbeat and she is full of excitement, telling me what responsibilities she was given during the day. As a result, she feels needed and appreciated and part of a community again, which is very important for people with dementia like her.
We’ve also noticed that her memory and conversational skills have improved with the interaction she gets with people at the Centre.
She is looking forward to the summer when she can join in gardening duties. She also enjoyed having her nails painted recently.
Thank you and keep up the good work!”


Bromley is Becoming a Dementia Friendly Community

Bromley businesses and public services are working to become more dementia friendly. They are working to understand what it is like to live with dementia and adapt their services so you feel welcome and can take part in everyday life.

For example, MyTime Active are dementia friendly. If you let them know about your needs, they can help stay active, exercise and socialise at their leisure centres.

There are more dementia friendly places, activities and memory/dementia cafes across Bromley, to help you create new experiences and memories with family carers and live well with dementia.

Access Local Bromley Dementia Services and Support

If you are interested in local Bromley dementia services, support groups and activities, contact the Bromley Dementia Support Hub where a Dementia Advisor can guide you through options and help you find what suits you best.


More Living with Dementia Articles

This article is part of a series of articles called Living with Dementia. They are for Bromley residents and are being published one a week between 15th May and 3rd July 2017. See more Living with Dementia articles as they are published here.

MindCare Dementia Support Open Days

MindCare Dementia Support Open Days

During Dementia Awareness Week 2017, MindCare Dementia Support in Bromley will be holding Open Days at its centres in Beckenham and St. Paul’s Cray.

MindCare has been providing specialist dementia support in Bromley for over 25 years, helping people live well with dementia in MindCare centres and in the home. You can find out more about MindCare in the short animation below:

Members of the public can visit the MindCare Dementia Support Centres to find out more about what they do:

St Paul’s Wood MindCare Centre (United Reformed Church Hall, Giggs Hill, St Paul’s Cray, BR5 2SA) will be open for public visits on Tuesday 16th May, 1pm – 3pm.

Beckenham MindCare Centre (20b Hayne Road, Beckenham, BR3 4HY) will be open to the public on Wednesday 17th May, 1pm – 3pm.

Bromley MindCare staff will also be attending Tesco Orpington and MyTime Active Centres to speak to members of the public about dementia and services we provide.

Further details of all Bromley-wide events for Dementia Awareness Week 2017.