Would you like to help shape the future work of Lowewood Museum?

 

As part of the ground-breaking ‘No Borders’ museum resilience project, Lowewood Museum is looking for local residents to take part in two museum focus groups this summer. The aim of these groups is to involve the community in ensuring the work of the museum is accessible and relevant to all, and to help us engage with audiences who are currently under-represented at the museum.

The No Borders project

‘No Borders’ is a partnership project between Lowewood Museum and two Essex museums – Epping Forest District Museum and Chelmsford Museum. Supported by funding from Arts Council England, this project aims to support the three museums to develop sustainable, inspiring services for the future. Attracting new and more diverse audiences and increasing accessibility for all is an important part of this work. Improvements will be made to various visitor services including a redesign of the gift shop, the introduction of a pop-up café and better accessibility for disabled visitors. It is also planned for the museums to establish new, charitable Development Foundations to undertake fundraising in support of the work of the museums.

The Focus Groups

 

Access focus group: This focus group will look at issues surrounding access to the museum’s services, including physical, sensory and intellectual access. Please get in touch if you are a resident of Broxbourne living with health or impairment related issues or represent or work with residents with additional access needs and would like to help us improve access for all.

BAME focus group: The second focus group is looking to bring together Broxbourne residents who define themselves as being of Black, Asian or Minority Ethnic in background. This focus group will help the museum ensure its future exhibition and events programming and its collection of objects reflects the diversity of local residents.

Both focus groups will take place at Lowewood Museum and will each last two hours. Each focus group will be limited to 10 people. Before the meeting, participants will be sent the current museum events programme and pre-visit information to review. This should not take more than 30 minutes. All participants will receive a £15 ‘Love2Shop’ voucher, which can be spent in thousands of high street stores, to thank them for their time.

To find out more or to register your interest in taking part in the focus groups please contact the museum by email on museum.leisure@broxbourne.gov.uk or call 01992 445596.

Please let us know whether you would like to attend the Access focus group, the BAME focus group or both, your preferred contact method and usual availability.

Meet the team – Exhibitions Officer, Pulhams

Jennifer image

Name
Jennifer Rowland

Job title
Exhibitions Officer, Pulhams

Give a brief outline of what you will be working on over the coming year.
I am working on a project celebrating the work of the Pulhams of Broxbourne, key landscape designers of the Victorian and Edwardian eras. I will be developing a touring exhibition and marketing this to potential host venues. The exhibition will launch at Lowewood Museum in January 2017 and be available for tour from May 2017. I will also be organising an event program to accompany the exhibition, and producing interpretation signage on the former Pulham factory site, the remains of which are being conserved as part of the project. The whole project is funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund and is being delivered in partnership with Broxbourne Borough Council and B3Living.

What is your favourite thing about working in Museums?
That moment when a visitor discovers a famous, personal or local history link to a museum object that makes them go ‘oh wow’. Inspiring and enthusing people of all ages with the collections and the areas of history covered by a museum is the most rewarding part of the job. Plus the chance to get involved in lots of different activities, get dressed up in historical costumes for events, and generally have fun all in the name of the job!

Share one piece of advice for those interested in working in the Museum field.
Think outside the box. The role and work of museums is constantly changing, so be flexible and don’t be afraid to put forward your ideas, whether you are volunteering or at a job interview!

Which historical figure would you like to meet and why. What would you ask them?
John Ray, the 17th Century father of natural history, who worked out the first scientific definition of a species and catalogued thousands of plants, animals, birds, fish, reptiles and insects during his life. The sheer scale of his works amazes me. He also wrote very advanced papers for the 17th Century on adaptation and the origins of fossils. However, sadly he is not that well known despite his ground-breaking contributions.  He lived in my former home village of Black Notley in Essex so I guess I would probably ask him – ‘What was it really like to live in Black Notley in the 1690s?’

Where would you choose to go/visit if you could go anywhere in the world for a day?
New Zealand to see the Lord of the Rings sets

What was the first music track or album you bought?
Ronan Keating’s album Ronan

Working Together: Museums and Care Homes recalling memories with residents in the local community

Lowewood Museum, Hoddesdon - Launch of the Memory Boxes
Lowewood Museum, Hoddesdon – Launch of the Memory Boxes

A museum’s mission is to be at the heart of the local community. Lowewood Museum’s Development Officer, Carly Hearn, gives an insight into the creation of memory boxes – which when used as part of reminiscence therapy can help reconnect a person with their identity. The project was supported through funding by Broxbourne Borough Council, Epping Forest District Council and Hertfordshire Association of Museums.

Have you ever visited your local museum? Do you know what services they provide for older people? Lowewood Museum in Hoddesdon, Hertfordshire, is one of many museums playing a supportive role to residential and nursing homes providing outreach work which uses their collection in productive and meaningful ways. In 2015, the Lowewood Museum launched a set of memory boxes containing nostalgic objects for local care homes and community organisations.

Memory boxes are often used for reminiscence therapy, helping to reconnect a person with their identity and to improve communication, mood and overall wellbeing. Reminiscence therapy encourages social interaction by giving people the opportunity to share stories and experiences through a fun and stimulating activity. It also helps to bring together people of different backgrounds and generations, often helping to improve relationships between carers and the older person. The Cochrane Collaboration Review on reminiscence therapy for dementia showed that for 144 of the participants studied, there was evidence to show that reminiscence therapy improved cognition, mood and general behavioural function.

Lowewood Museum is not alone with this as many museums across the country offer memory boxes which are often free to hire. These easy to use low-cost boxes, filled with memory-jogging objects, can have a significant impact on someone’s wellbeing and evidence has also shown that reminiscence therapy can also significantly reduce care-giver strain when family carers are also involved (Thorgrimsen, 2002).

Joint reminiscence work involving people with dementia and their family care givers is a good example of relationship-centred care (Wood B, Spector AE, Jones CA, Orrell M, Davies SP, 2005) and evidence has shown that reminiscence therapy can assist in the reduction of depression in older people without dementia. (Bohlmeijer, 2003). Involving carers and older people without dementia in both the development and delivery of the boxes was vital for Lowewood’s project, as from the outset it was essential to recognise the central role played by volunteers and carers in nursing and residential care. With the ever increasing demand on care home staff, the Museum offered a base for community groups to work together producing a set of memory boxes which they could take ownership of, helping to promote to more individuals.

Lea Valley U3A volunteers reminiscing with cats cradleFor Lowewood’s project, volunteers from the Lea Valley University of the Third Age (U3A) were recruited to help develop the boxes, working alongside staff from local nursing home, Quantum Care’s Belmont View, flexi care and independent living provider, B3Living, visual impaired organisation, Vision4Growth and speech and language therapy group, Cheshunt Aphasia, helping to ensure the boxes met the needs of their residents and group members. By working with Visual Impaired Organisation, Vision4Growth and speech and language support group, Cheshunt Aphasia, the Museum ensured expert advice was sought for residents in care who had suffered strokes, or other causes of speech and sight impairment. All those involved received training from a reminiscence specialist on how to use reminiscence therapy in person-centred care.

The final result produced four boxes which incorporated objects from the 1930s onwards appealing to both men and women, arranged in themes including Home Sweet Home, Out on the Town, When We Were Young, and Happy Days. Each box also comprised a support pack for care staff, which includes cue cards for discussion prompts and feedback sheets for sharing reminiscence session ideas between care homes. Popular items within the boxes that have helped to un-lock memories and stimulate discussions include cat’s cradle, Dinky Toys, a school milk bottle, Punch and Judy puppets, seaside postcards, dress and knitting patterns, sunlight soap, men’s razors and ladies hair curlers. We were also careful to include more recent items from the 1970s and 1980s for use with younger residents and people living with early onset dementia.  All items were relatively inexpensive, sourced online or through car boot sales and local donations.  Within three months of their launch the boxes were fully booked by local care homes and community groups, used in reminiscence sessions by over 300 people. Lowewood Museum has built on this initial success to develop new reminiscence based resources and support for care homes, including reminiscence sessions and tea and chat sessions at the Museum.

Lowewood Museum, Hoddesdon - Launch of the Memory Boxes
Lowewood Museum, Hoddesdon – Launch of the Memory Boxes

‘Home Sweet Home worked very well with our residents and staff alike! Our residents shared their memories as the items prompted long forgotten thoughts. There was much laughter at some of the stories told. The residents enjoyed talking to the younger members of staff and teaching them about life in past times – that was empowering for them. Thank you.’

St Catherine’s Care Home, Broxbourne, Hertfordshire. Lowewood Museum’s Home Sweet Home Memory Box.

One of the care homes making use of the boxes is St Catherine’s in Broxbourne, Hertfordshire. Activity and Lifestyle Facilitator, Carol Kerr, first used the boxes in a group setting, sitting with residents and selecting objects one at a time. Carol spoke of how the objects prompted many memories with the residents, with many stating, “I had one of those” and “‘I haven’t seen one of those for years”. Carol also said that ‘some of our younger member of staff had never seen some of the items before and so it empowered our residents, to be able to explain to them what their uses were’. Carol went on to explain how the room was filled with laughter and how a lovely afternoon was spent reminiscing and sharing stories.

Carol also used the memory boxes with individuals in a quieter setting. Ellie who is 87 prefers to sit in a quiet lounge and carers often find it hard to interest and engage her in any activity. However, when a member of staff walked into the lounge wearing the old fashioned apron, (or pinny as they called it!), Ellie threw her head back and laughed. “I used to wear one of those” she said, and remained cheerful and was happy to look through the box. The staff found this very rewarding.

Lowewood Museum’s memory boxes are available to hire for groups. They can be borrowed free of charge – for more information contact us on museum.leisure@broxbourne.gov.uk or 01992 445596.

Conclusion

Using memory boxes in person-centred care is an inexpensive resource offering meaningful results. With the ever-increasing pressure on care home staff to fulfil their daily tasks, it is perhaps their local museum who can offer the support in the development of reminiscence resources. If you haven’t visited your local museum, why not find out where it is and see what they have to offer in terms of resources and support for your care home? A museum’s mission is to be at the heart of its local community, as a main hub helping to bring together local communities, groups and individuals of all ages, backgrounds and abilities. Museums should exist as a place to offer all individuals the opportunity to explore and re-connect with the past and thus can play a crucial role in supporting nursing and residential care homes with the objects they collect and the vibrant outreach work they offer.

Wood B, Spector AE, Jones CA, Orrell M, Davies SP (2005) Reminscence Therapy for Demntia. The Cochrane Collaboration Review.

L Thorgrimsen, P Schweitzer, M Orrell (2002) Evaluating reminiscence for people with dementia: a pilot study. The Arts is Psychotherapy.

Bohlmeijer E, Smit F, Cuijpers P (2003) Effects of reminiscence and life review on late-life depression: a meta-analysis. International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry.

Museum of Liverpool (2012) An evaluation of National Museums Liverpool: Dementia Training Programme

 

‘School’s Out’, New Exhibition at Lowewood Museum

School's Out poster low res

Opening on Saturday 10 October, ‘School’s Out’ gathers together memories and objects from the Borough’s schools history. Curated by Lowewood Museum’s Youth Panel, this special exhibition has something for everyone to enjoy.

Below is a gallery of images from Lowewood Museum’s photographic collection of schools through history.

On The Move Exhibition

From cart to car, the ancient invention of the wheel created the world we know today. Our latest exhibition, ‘On The Move’, open until 26 September 2015 explores the ways we rely on the wheel and marks the 175th anniversary of the opening of Waltham Cross and Broxbourne railway stations.

Below is a gallery of images from Lowewood Museum’s photographic collection of transport across the Borough.