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BBC Radio 4’s excellent All in the Mind programme last week featured a piece about a sporting memories group in Scotland. This was a project based on reminiscence theory, that is the idea that sharing stories about past events can improve mental well-being, particularly that of older people. The idea for a project based on sport is easy to understand. What is it that many men talk about when they get to work on a Monday morning? Probably something about how well, or badly, their football team did on Saturday afternoon! If men become isolated - perhaps once they’ve retired, perhaps through mental health problems like depression, or through memory loss - then talking about sport with other men can reap some real benefits. The group featured happened to be all older men, but the idea of the project was that it was open to all.
The programme focused on a group that meets every Tuesday morning in Haddington, near Edinburgh. The men had never met before joining the group a couple of years ago. You could see the positive outcomes of running this kind of group anywhere, and certainly in a care setting. In fact, the Sporting Memories network ran a pilot project in 15 care homes in Leeds a couple of years back. Getting involved in this kind of activity might appeal to people who are reluctant to take part in other activities. The group featured didn’t just talk about favourite sporting memories, they had a ‘half-time’ pie, appearances from local sporting stars, and the opportunity to take part or watch other sports. You can listen to the programme at: http://www.sportingmemoriesnetwork.com/latest-smn-news/bbc-radio-4--all-in-the-mind-3rd-june-2014/
Network of groups
When I started looking into this topic I found there is a growing network of sporting memories groups throughout the UK. The groups have recruited support from a number of sports stars who have been able to contribute to the project in some way.
How can this relate to your work? The QCS policies and admission packs include the importance of previous interest in sport and leisure as part of the care planning process. Building up a life history of past interests can help formulate a care plan to allow the Service User to maintain some links with these and so help promote mental well-being.
I’ve written before about the benefits of taking part in sport and leisure activities as a way of improving someone’s mental and physical well-being. Well, it looks like there are positive health outcomes from just talking about it!