Postcard project helps trigger Fife care home residents’ memories

Manager Liam Duncan and activities co-ordinator Amanda McKidd look over the postcards.
Manager Liam Duncan and activities co-ordinator Amanda McKidd look over the postcards.

From Ecuador to Arran, Crete to Edinburgh, postcards from across the world have been pouring in to an East Neuk care home.

Willow House activities co-ordinator Amanda McKidd’s Facebook post was simple – please send your postcards to the home for the residents to see.

The private post was turned public and soon it had been shared thousands of times across the social media site.

More than 150 postcards have been delivered to the care home, from South America to sun-soaked beaches in Fife.

Each also includes a message from the sender, usually the traditional ‘wish you were here’.

Amanda was inspired to ask for postcards after taking part in a similar scheme across the border, when a dementia cafe in Berwick put out an appeal.

“I sent them one from Crail,” she explained.

“It seemed like such a lovely idea. I had no idea I would be working in a home myself later on.

“It just popped into my head again, with everyone going on their summer holidays. It seemed like a nice thing to do.”

Amanda had “no idea” the Facebook post would blow up like it did. But she said it has had a positive impact on the residents.

“About 95 per cent of the residents had a good reaction to the postcards,” Amanda said.

“The postcards are lovely – it reminds them of their holidays. It’s a talking point and it triggers memories and positive reactions.

“Postcards are such a tradition. It’s a little statement saying ‘even though we’re on holiday having a great time, we are thinking of you’.

“It’s a nice feeling to know that someone is thinking of you.

“In the home the residents can feel like they’ve been left behind – we’re able to say that this is for them.”

The postcards have also allowed Amanda to have conversations with residents she has not spoken to much since starting her new role a couple of months ago.

Care home manager Liam Duncan said the postcards had also helped to trigger memories.

He said: “With dementia you have long term and short term memories. Some people might forget something they did two minutes ago but remember something they did 80 years ago.

“Either way, this will bring back memories. It brings back a lot of good thoughts as well.”

The care home hosts a number of other activities and events, such as weeks based around a particular decade, to trigger the memories of their residents.

It also stocks a variety of different magazines covering numerous topics in a bid to get the residents chatting and thinking.

Two of the biggest triggers for memories are music and pictures.

“Someone might not know something by asking them,” Liam said, “but show them a picture and they might remember.

“It has all these knock-on effects.

“There are so many cards that have been posted to the care home, boasting pictures of a host of places people may well recognise.

“It can help trigger something in their memory.”

Liam said the postcards are also having a positive impact on the health of the residents, as it keeps their minds active.

He added: “If you are sitting in a room and you have no-one to talk to, your mind will deteriorate because it’s not being kept active.”

If you would like to send a postcard to the care home, send it today to Willow House, 77 Toll Road, Cellardyke, KY10 3HZ.