Apprentices go back to the 50s at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, King’s Lynn

L to R: Lizzie Townsley, Samantha Mansfield and Jade Myhill. Picture submitted.

L to R: Lizzie Townsley, Samantha Mansfield and Jade Myhill. Picture submitted. - Credit: Archant

Apprentices at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital held a 1950s tea party to thank all those who have supported them to reach the national finals of a competition to find the Apprentice Team of the Year.

The team of nine created won their place in the finals for their 'pop-up' 1950s Reminiscence Room and will be representing the only NHS Trust ever to have reached the finals of the annual Brathay Apprentice Challenge.

The time-warp room is used in the hospital to help patients with dementia unlock their memories of their own past and reminisce about their younger days.

Mental Health specialist liaison nurse Sarah Reed said: 'We are treating increasing numbers of older patients who have dementia in addition to their medical condition. Being in hospital can be very confusing and it is important to establish a connection with them.

'Very often a familiar item from their past or a snatch of music, for example, can open up a thread of conversation that will allow us to build a better understanding of the patient as a person.'

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The Reminiscence Room is based on a number of 50s-style room settings and features artefacts, publications, music and photos from over half a century ago.

Exhibits include radiograms and kitchen utensils, and a restored Silver Cross pram, which is on long-term loan to the hospital.

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The Reminiscence Room created for the hospital can be transported to lounge or meeting room areas within the hospital to 'pop up' at regular tea-party social sessions held for patients with dementia.

As a way of saying 'thank you' to hospital staff and people who had rummaged through their attics to find 1950s memorabilia, the apprentices held a 1950s-style tea and cake party, complete with genuine 'Sunday best' embroidered tablecloths and cake stands.

The event also gave them an opportunity to display some of the work and artefacts produced or collected for their project.

Apprentice Lizzie Townsley, 19, said: 'We had a donation of 1950s clothing and we thought it would add to the atmosphere of the tea party if we dressed up. It's quite surreal – like stepping back into the past.

'Local people have been so generous in donating items and we can't thank them enough. This has been a really enjoyable project to work on. All we have to do now is concentrate on the finals!'

Finals of the Brathay Challenge will be held at Windermere in June, when the QEH team will be up against seven other finalists, including British Airways and Virgin Media, during a weekend of challenges.

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