Memory bench for ‘friends of dementia’

Mayor Coun. Bridget Hilton unveils Ribble Valley's first Memory Bench outside the borough council offices in Church Walk. (s)
Mayor Coun. Bridget Hilton unveils Ribble Valley's first Memory Bench outside the borough council offices in Church Walk. (s)

The first dementia-friendly “memory bench” in Lancashire was unveiled last week by Ribble Valley Mayor Bridget Hilton.

Coun. Hilton’s mayor’s fund is backing a series of “memory benches” which will be sited throughout the Ribble Valley over the coming year.

The benches will be painted in soothing colours, featuring calming words, and placed away from the hustle and bustle.

The first, outside the Ribble Valley Borough Council Offices in Clitheroe, is sage green and features the words “A calm place to sit, rest, look back, just be” by Clitheroe poet Alison McNulty.

The bench is surrounded by roses, Mexican orange blossom, ornamental grasses, pansies and two types of lavender, all sensory plants noted for their aromatic and tactile properties.

Coun. Hilton said: “Recent research shows that memory joggers and soothing colours, words or music are able to evoke a response or memory in people with dementia. For example, someone may have difficulty finding the right words to use, but be able to sing an entire song.

“Evidence also suggests that people with dementia are calmed and uplifted by certain smells, while the tactile experience of touching a meaningful object, such as a prayer book, plant or pet, may also be beneficial.”

Ribble Valley Borough Council joined forces with businesses, community groups and public and private sector organisations last year to establish the area as a dementia-friendly borough.

The council has hosted numerous dementia awareness sessions and has been working with the Alzheimer’s Society to develop a network of “dementia friends”.