Bradford Dementia Group, part of the school of health studies at Bradford University, undertook a research project with a pre-existing group for people diagnosed with dementia and their carers.
The group's research project aimed to establish whether 'reminiscence' groups of this kind change the health and well-being of patients with recently diagnosed dementia, and if so, what these changes are.
The Remembering Yesterday, Caring Today research model was developed by Age Exchange in London, and the methodology was replicated for the Bradford research.
Having gained national funding, the project started in May 2005.
The first objective related to social inclusion and well-being. The group aimed to ensure that people with dementia and their carers met once a week for 12 weeks to reminisce together in a facilitated group.
Each session was structured around a universal theme (eg school days or childhood games). The idea was to create relaxed social groups where everybody felt included. It also provided peer support for carers, who can feel isolated. Dementia patients gained confidence in speaking for themselves in the group.
The second objective was a randomised control trial. Interviews were held before the project began with a random sample of people with dementia in the group and a control group of people with dementia not taking part. Throughout the project, both groups were interviewed and measures of mood, well-being and self-confidence taken, with the aim of seeing if people from the reminiscence project feel differently.
Although the project has only just begun, the people in the group already seem relaxed. This is unusual, as people with dementia often feel self-conscious in a group, aware they may be repeating themselves or moving slowly.