Plymouth pupils take part in scheme to help understand dementia


Residents and staff at Camelot Care’s Freshfields Nursing Home in Plymouth are looking forward to taking part for the second time in the Archie Project, a scheme that links local schools with people with dementia in the community.

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Part of Reminiscence Learning, a West Country-based charity that aims to promote, maintain and improve activity and education by working with people with dementia, the Archie Project is a unique intergenerational awareness-raising project created to reduce the stigma and fear associated with the word dementia.


A timetable has already been agreed for the first two terms of the new academic year, which will involve pupils from Year 4 of St Budeaux Foundation School getting to know the residents of Freshfields in Agaton Road, Plymouth, a specialist dementia-care home run by Camelot Care.


Acting headteacher, Cathy Drage, said: “Last year’s class benefitted enormously from their interaction with the residents, and it was clear that the individuals who live at Freshfields were delighted to have the chance to meet our pupils.


“We have an exciting series of Archie Project events coming up, and I’m sure that this year’s class will both gain and contribute a great deal as a result of their involvement.”


The schedule includes reciprocal visits by the children to the home and by residents to the school, including a sing-along concert at Freshfields, an exchange visit at the beginning of November for ‘Scarecrow Day,’ youngsters paying their respects at the home on Remembrance Day, a carol concert at Freshfields, and invitations for the residents to attend both the school Christmas play and the end-of-term carol concert at St Budeaux Church.


Freshfields’ activities co-ordinator, Paul Hutt, who was also involved in The Archie Project last year, said: “The idea is to try and break down the fear attached to dementia, by helping the youngsters understand the condition and how it affects people.”


The focal point is a book which tells the story of a scarecrow called Archie who has a dementia, using the idea of colour being drained from Archie when he is in a state of ill being, feeling unloved and invisible in his community to a gradual return of colour when he is included, in a state of well-being, loved and being treated no differently to his friends.


Reminiscence Learning’s chief executive, Fiona Mahoney, said: “The Archie Project revolves around a simple concept but one that both adults and children can relate to.


“Camelot Care’s involvement last year yielded fantastic results, and they were singled out for praise at the annual conference in Plymouth, chaired by our patron Angela Ripon. We’re delighted to be working with them again, and look forward to an equally fruitful year.”


A research project led by Exeter University has shown that children’s views about older people became more positive after taking part in the Archie Project, and that their attitudes and intentions about how to treat older people with dementia became more inclusive and helpful, with children aged 7-9 showing the best results.


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