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Student’s ‘conversation quilt’ artwork will aid dementia patients

A pioneering approach to helping people living with dementia using artwork with visual and sensual properties to aid responses on an emotional level is being trialled with the assistance of textiles students from Norwich University of the Arts (NUA).

Group with quilts

Vanessa Norris (left) and Margaret Bacon (right) present their quilts to the Grenville Court Care Home staff and residents

The ‘Conversation Quilt’, which has been developed from an idea by student Margaret Bacon, is designed to assist dementia patients and their families to talk about topics which spark memories. Decorated with designs based on Margaret’s own memories from her days as a café owner and baker, including homemade cakes, scones, vintage tea cups and saucers, the quilt will be a permanent wall hanging at Grenville Court Care Home, a residential facility in Horsford, Norwich. Five lap quilts were also commissioned for use by the residents in the day room, which were produced by MA Textile Design graduate Vanessa Norris.


Margaret Bacon’s conversation quilt

The project was led by the Grenville Court team and delivered by the University’s commercial creative consultancy ideasfactoryNUA, which works with businesses to provide live commercial briefs to academic-led teams of creative students. Grenville Court staff briefed a group of NUA students on how colour and texture can stimulate the brain and generate positive, calming responses amongst people whose cognitive function has degenerated significantly. The students, who are all in Year Two of their BA (Hons) Textile Design degrees, developed proposals in response to this brief, with Margaret’s idea being taken forward.

Gautem Patel, Director of Alpha Care Management Services, says: “We are always keen promote any ideas that are supportive to the needs of people suffering from dementia. As so much is still unknown of the illness the support of local universities and the community can only improve the quality of life for both resident and relatives.

“The artwork produced is not only visually soothing and therapeutic but it is a great conversation starter for our residents and relatives. Some of the beautiful pieces give opportunities to enhance not only visual but also tactile experiences of the residents and they can reminisce their past. We are sure that Margaret’s work will be well received and provide our residents and their families a great deal of enjoyment.”

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