Tangible Memories- A Deerhurst Experience

On the 18th of January I joined Barney, Lucy and Hannah on their visit to Deerhurst care home in Soundwell. This was my third day working for Stand + Stare on my University of Bristol placement, and my first visit to the home.

Stand + Stare started working on the AHRC funded Tanglible Memories Project with the University of Bristol in 2014, and created the Tangible Memories Story Creator App. This allows older residents living in care settings to record stories relating to objects or images in an interactive and meaningful way.

The Tangible Memories Story Creator App

The Tangible Memories Story Creator App


Parlours Of Wonders is an extension of the Tangible Memories project. Now, the group intends to use the app in ‘Parlours of Wonder’ and allow school children and others to participate in intergenerational activites using the app in the care homes where they can listen and talk about experiences and memories with residents

Deerhurst care home intend to use an entire room to create their Parlour of Wonder. In going into the home we wanted to brainstorm ideas and co-design the room with the staff who work there and the residents to get an insight into what they would like in their room. It was agreed that the area wanted to feel like a cosy space for residents to go with family and friends to record their stories and reminisce.

Us and the residents chatting in the soon to be 'Parlour of Wonder'

Us and the residents chatting in the soon to be 'Parlour of Wonder'

In the discussion we talked a lot about the content of the room. The four residents of the home were very engaged with the ideas and brought invaluable insight into what they wanted in the room. The key areas were:

1)   Map on wall

2)   Blackboard

3)   Storage boxes

4)   Cabinet of Curiosities

5)   Intimate Lighting

6)   Chairs

The map on the wall appeared to be of most interest to the residents. We showed them an image of a painted map created by Simon Tozer for Blaise Western Court, an extra care home on the other side of Bristol. The residents liked the painting and its landmarks and wanted something similar to that on the large wall in their Parlour. They also wanted to extend the map out to Kingswood and South Gloucester. Through this we discussed the possibility of using the shell illustrations on the map so that we could use the app to link audio recordings to it. Therefore, the residents could talk about their lives in the Bristol area and be able to use the map interactively.

Map of Bristol at Blaise Western Court

Map of Bristol at Blaise Western Court

We also discussed the possibilities of having storage boxes either with dates (1920/1930/1940/etc) or events (such as weddings/birthdays/ etc) on them. They would have stimuli inside, which could be of used by the school children to motivate discussion. We were shown boxes that the home already have and agreed that they would be useful in the room. The residents preferred the dates idea to the events.

We finally talked about the Cabinet of Curiosities. This interested the residents and when talking about colours of the cabinet and of the rooms it was amusing to hear that the Bristol City and Rovers fans had different preferences (red vs. blue). They agreed they wanted a lightbox within the cabinet and liked the suggestion of being able to sit around a big screen to see their memories.

The discussion did, however, come back to the map. They loved the thought of having a blackboard to write around the map and to be able to stick pictures of where they lived and worked on the map and to have spotlights shining down on it. The map stole the show.

My mayfly jotter caught snippets of the conversations and was very handy in jotting down any key ideas that came up. It provided a great way to record elements of the group discussion and take some pictures. Going forward, the Deerhurst residents are very excited about their Parlour of Wonder and I cannot wait to see what is to come of it.

Hannah Wisher- January 2017