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Beach therapy brings back holiday memories

Posted onPosted on 9th Oct

Memories of seaside visits to Skegness were brought flooding back for residents of a Shirebrook care home.

The beach day at Richmond Care Home featured a sand pit, paddling pool, fish and chips and an ice cream van as the ultimate in reminiscence therapy for residents.

Research has shown that recalling happy memories can improve people’s mood, help them to feel connected to the world and, for those with dementia, give them a chance to make the most of the long-term memories they now rely on.

Transforming the garden at Richmond into a seaside resort allowed residents to reminisce about trips to the Lincolnshire resort, where many of them would spend time at a miners’ holiday camp.

The camp, which was opened in 1939 in Winthorpe, offered a week’s annual holiday for Derbyshire miners and their families as part of a range of welfare benefits provided by the Miners’ Welfare Scheme.

Shirley, 85, first went to the camp as a child after the Second World War, and continued to visit when her husband, Ronald, became a miner at Langwith Colliery in the 1950s.

“This beach day has been wonderful, it was like reliving my childhood,” she said. “The first time we went to Skegness, I was so excited. I’d never been to the seaside before and I loved building sandcastles and playing in the sea. We were even on the beach if it was raining!

“The meals at the camp were something I remember — the food was always good. When I was older and I used to go back with my husband, cockles and prawns were a treat, they tasted just like the sea. To have cockles again has been amazing, they brought back so many memories.”

Richmond Care Home offers residential and dementia care for up to 40 people. The beach day is one of a range of therapeutic activities run by community organiser Natasha Westwood.

“As we get older, we find a lot of comfort in the happy times we enjoyed when we were younger,” said Natasha. “We offer a lot of activities here that allow people to enjoy the music and the times of years ago.

“It’s 10 years since Shirley went to the coast, and longer for some of our other residents, so it was wonderful to see the joy she got from eating cockles again and sharing what she remembered of Skegness with the other residents who used to go to the miners’ camp.”

The day was also a chance to bring the community together. Families were invited and youngsters loved splashing in a paddling pool and eating ice cream.