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Wakefield Council - Wakefield Museums and Castles

Wakefield Council’s Museums and Castles Service (the Service) collects safeguards and makes accessible approximately 114,000 artefacts that document and record the human, social and cultural history of Wakefield and district from the distant past to the present day. The Service’s vision is that residents and visitors should have the opportunity to explore the collections and museums and through this to have the opportunity to develop an informed understanding of the district’s rich heritage and diverse traditions and its impact on a fast changing society. The Service will do this by ensuring that the collections and the three museums at Wakefield, Pontefract and Castleford contribute towards improving the well-being and health of people and communities, to support the most vulnerable and to build the skills and workability of people, especially of young people. The Service will continue to consult and to directly involve people and communities to make creative and full use of the collections to tell their own diverse and unique stories to the wider world.

20 February 2017
Yorkshire and Humber
Local Alliances:
Wakefield and Five Towns Dementia Action Alliance, Yorkshire & Humber Dementia Action Alliance

1. Action Plan

1. The National Dementia Declaration lists seven outcomes that the DAA are seeking to achieve for people with dementia and their carers. How would you describe your organisation’s role in delivering better outcomes for people with dementia and their carers?

Wakefield Museums and Castles has a set of 5 reminiscence boxes that can be borrowed for free through Sandal Library Service by anyone with a Wakefield Council Library card. The boxes were developed for older people and to support people with or working with those who are living with dementia. These boxes can be used on a one to one basis or with a group in a care home setting or other location. We are happy to provide instruction on how to use the boxes and handling objects upon request. This has been delivered to a local hospital group of ward befriender volunteers.

 Our frontline staff have attended Dementia Friends training over the last couple of years and as a service we are working towards making our venues as dementia friendly as we can.

 Wakefield Museums and Castles also provide hands-on activity sessions for adults that may be accessed by families/carers and or people with early on–set dementia as a way to interact and enjoy the company of others. These sessions are often art or craft activity focussed.

2. What are the challenges to delivering these outcomes from the perspective of your organisation?

Wakefield Museums and Castles’ audience is broad, but with limited resources. We are keen to undertake more work with people living with dementia and their carers, but need to balance this with existing workloads and pressures of income-generation. New work has to be sustainable within current programming and budgets.

 Museum Buildings – the three museums are each housed in buildings which have their own challenges for accessibility, and each has a limited range of improvements that can practically be made – whether through physical location, listed-building status, co-location with other services, and of course, budget.  We want to make all of our facilities as accessible as possible within these constraints.

 Exhibitions and permanent displays – we also want to make our museum displays as accessible and engaging as possible for all audiences, and need improved expertise in developing specific interpretation plans.

 One of our biggest challenges is developing staff confidence to work in this highly emotive area.

2. Actions

  • Evaluate our current provision and accessibility

    In order to develop a Forward Plan for our dementia work, we need to first properly evaluate our current offer to understand what is working and what needs improvement, before trying anything new.

    We have developed 5 reminiscence boxes, available for loan, but do not have a clear understanding of how they are being used.  We need to develop a system for periodically evaluating the boxes, not just capturing monitoring data, as well as condition checks on the objects, and looking to refresh and improve the contents.

    We also need to implement periodic audits of the museum spaces. For example, ensuring the format of our ‘Find Out More’ cards in the galleries is always following best practice.  Is there a demand for more written information or prompts of ‘further questions to talk about’ to assist discussion between our visitors?  What else can we offer?

    Initial Scoping
  • Work with local hospital staff and ward befrienders to develop a focus group

    We have provided training for a new scheme of Ward Befrienders at a local hospital and would like to take guidance from these volunteers and staff to further develop our current offer of resources.  This focus group could help us with the points raised in Action 2, including the development of further reminiscence boxes.

    Initial Scoping
  • Skills sharing & guidance from other museum and external organisations

    Wakefield Museums and Castles would like to work with organisations that already have an established programme or methodology for providing services for those people living with dementia and their carers. From shadowing tailored reminiscence session in other museum settings to a comparison to a session in a hospital setting it would be of benefit to staff to see delivery put in to practice by other colleagues working in similar fields.

    The findings could be shared via a forum such as Age Friendly Museums.

    Initial Scoping