DCMS blog

NHS 70: House of Memories app

Sam Vaux

by

House of Memories Marketing Officer, National Museums Liverpool

The My House of Memories app is one example of digital health innovation in the NHS – helping people living with dementia, their carers, and family to share memories together.

The National Health Service turns 70 today, 5 July 2018 – a perfect opportunity to celebrate the achievements of one of the nation’s most loved institutions.

House of Memories is a pioneering project created by National Museums Liverpool, which is making a real difference to people living with dementia, their carers, families and communities.

A couple share memories together at House of Memories’ 5th birthday © Gareth Jones

A couple share memories together at House of Memories’ 5th birthday © Gareth Jones

Created in 2012, House of Memories is a museum-led dementia awareness programme, developed to promote compassion, respect and dignity in care for people living with dementia, their carers and families. It uses the power of museum objects to help build positive communication between carers and people living with dementia.

Working in partnership

Funded by the Department of Health and Liverpool Clinical Commissioning Group, House of Memories was originally developed for health and social care professionals, and has since expanded to support family carers.

The NHS has been integral to the ongoing development of House of Memories and partnerships with NHS Trusts across the North West have helped to inform and shape the programme.

Creating specialist care through world class collections

House of Memories was inspired by National Museums Liverpool’s world class museum collections, providing workshop participants with dementia-friendly memory activities and resources to enable greater understanding of how information about a person’s history and life experience can be a valuable tool for positive communication and engagement.

The museum-led dementia awareness programme offers training and activities to enable carers to provide person-centred care to support people to live well with dementia. Activities include an interactive training day, museum memory app and access to a free object loan service.

My House of Memories app cover (c) National Museums Liverpool

My House of Memories app cover (c) National Museums Liverpool

Going from strength to strength

Launched in 2014, the award-winning My House of Memories app uses images, videos and audio to stimulate memory and conversation. It was co-created by National Museums Liverpool and people living with dementia and their carers (Mersey Care NHS Foundation Trust and Innovate Dementia). The app has achieved 24,520 downloads since 2014 and was recently highlighted as one of many digital health innovations which could help generations to come. It has also been widely recommended by the Innovation Agency, who spreads digital innovation, improves health and generates economic growth.

The app is a unique and innovative free digital memory resource for iPads and other tablets. It is the first of its kind in the world using a very simple format to stimulate memory and allowing app-users to explore objects from the past and share memories together.

‘My memories’

The app allows people to browse through objects from 1920-1980, brought to life with music and film, to prompt discussion and reminiscence about every day memories and events, from school life to sport. It includes content from museum partners across the country, including the British Museum.

App-users can save objects to their own memory trees, memory boxes or memory timelines. Carers can also create personal profiles for different people, so that they can save their favourite objects and look at them again. A new app feature ‘My Memories’ enables users to upload photographs as personal memories for people living with dementia.

Visitor enjoys a demonstration of the My House of Memories app © Gareth Jones

Visitor enjoys a demonstration of the My House of Memories app © Gareth Jones

House of Memories has provided training to more than 12,000 people across the UK, including family carers, to help support people to live well with dementia. House of Memories is also in development in the US, working in partnership with the Minnesota Historical Society on a model of the My House of Memories app as well as dementia awareness training.

Family carer explores the My House of Memories app at a House of Memories dementia awareness workshop for family and friends © Gareth Jones

Family carer explores the My House of Memories app at a House of Memories dementia awareness workshop for family and friends © Gareth Jones

More recently, a dementia-friendly website signposts web visitors to the range of House of Memories resources and training opportunities available, as well as an online shop, where products can be purchased for carers to use to support people to live well with dementia.