BBC presenter helps care home residents share memories

Residents in Care UK homes were able to join a live event with food historian, Dr Polly Russell, from the BBC programme Back in Time for… for a live interactive food tasting session designed to transport residents back to their younger years.

Partnering with Care UK for the nationwide Food for Thought initiative, which sees care homes across the country celebrate their favourite foods throughout the decades, Dr Polly worked alongside Care UK chefs to create a unique reminiscence menu.

The menu featured iconic foods from the 50s, 60s, 70s and 80s and is designed to be used as a sensory tool to encourage reminiscence in older people.

As part of the event, the home’s talented chefs prepared a host of bitesize delights from the menu, including kedgeree, prawn cocktail and a show-stopping black forest gateau for residents to enjoy, complemented by a selection of fine wine.

The tasting menu was designed to reflect the narrative of Dr Polly’s talk – for example, when she talked about the 1950s, residents were able to enjoy a little bit of history with a bite-size portion of coronation chicken.

Dr Polly said: ‘I was delighted to partner with Care UK to create a reminiscence tasting menu, and I had a fantastic time chatting to residents about some of their favourite foods throughout the ages.

‘There really is something incredibly special about the way food can evoke memories and emotions, and it was wonderful to see how everyone’s faces light up when they tried each dish.

‘Just one flavour or smell can prompt a different memory and emotion for each individual, which is why a session like this can be so powerful.’

Malaika Charles, home manager at Sandfields in Cheltenham, added: ‘We loved meeting Dr Polly virtually, and taking part in the sensory reminiscence activity. My team, as always, pulled out all the stops to deliver an outstanding experience.

‘Across Care UK, we believe in the power of activity-based care, and we’re always looking for new and exciting experiences to promote wellbeing. Reminiscence activities can be extremely beneficial for older people, particularly those living with dementia, as long-term memory typically remains stronger than the short-term.

‘Drawing on strong memories helps to boost confidence and provides an opportunity to re-live happy times, which can prompt conversation and evoke the associated emotions.

‘Everyone had a great time dining through the decades and it was wonderful to hear residents share their memories during the session. It really was the restaurant experience that residents love.’

To find out more about Care UK’s partnership with Dr Polly Russell, and for more top tips on how others can use food as a reminiscence tool for older people visit careuk.com/food-for-thought

Photo Credit – Care UK

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