The Memory Harbour at Clonskeagh Hospital, is a service for people in South Dublin concerned about their memory, those diagnosed with dementia and their families and carers.
The Memory Harbour is an assistive technology and memory enablement demonstration site where people with dementia living in the Dublin South region, their families and health care workers, can come to observe the ideal environment that enable people with dementia to live well for longer in their own homes.
The demonstration rooms include a kitchen, bedroom, bathrooms and living room. Importantly, these rooms are equipped with clinically appropriate furniture, utensils and safety items to make living longer at home an achievable option. All the rooms include guidance on how to clearly signpost the daily routine and household items required for a normal day. For example, the kitchen has all cupboards and drawers labelled, and the frequently used items are stored together and within easy reach. The microwave oven is part of a package with a provider who supplies the meals and a book showing the user which single button to press relative to the meal they want to reheat. This one-step approach enables people living with dementia to continue to dine at home long after it might otherwise have been deemed unsafe.
The clocks have large digital screens and the day and date are included in luminous colours. The remote controls have only a few large buttons and the house phone has only four buttons, each with a photo of the family member assigned to the button.
There are numerous memory tools around the site, including games, visual display boards and journals. The purpose of the Memory Harbour is to be a source of empowerment, education and support to people living with dementia, yet the practical achievement is providing brilliant life hacks for those living with dementia and their families and carers.
One of the most striking features on first encountering the Memory Harbour has to be the interior walls. An ingenious part of the project was adorning the corridors with wallpaper showing familiar scenes from Irish life, and their catchment area of Dublin South in particular.
A fantastic mix of generic street scenes and familiar sights can be found. They include old telephone boxes, Irish pubs and shopfronts, the Lansdowne Road stadium, the Ha’penny Bridge and the delightful bandstand at Dun Laoghaire pier. The effect is instant, you feel like you are walking down memory lane, and it is this memory experience that is beautifully stirring in the minds of the people visiting.
The “Quiet Room” is an oasis of calm, where one can sit in peace or use any of the memory enablement tools. One can listen to the radio, choose to watch clouds or the stars move over the ceiling and gaze out the window at the cows in the field or the flowers in the garden (more carefully chosen wallpaper scenes).
In the corner sits a machine which carries an amazing array of sensory stimuli from various smells, sounds, lights, tactile materials and even a small water feature. The Memory Harbour was part of the Living Well with Dementia (LWwD) pilot project run by HSE. The key message of LWwD is “See the Person, not their Dementia”.
The wishes of people with dementia, their families and carers were always at the heart of every decision and initiative taken. Over the lifespan of LWwD, feedback was sought from those who used the Memory Harbour service, and it was overwhelmingly positive.
An Occupational Therapist is available at the Memory Harbour to assist those enquiring and it is now the single point of contact for people with dementia and families in the Dublin South East area.
For more information on dementia please visit the HSE’s www.understandtogether.ie