Do you have any pre-1960s items tucked away in your loft?

Tiptree box contents: Submitted

Tiptree box contents: Submitted - Credit: Archant

People are being urged to turn out their lofts for any pre-1960s items they might have kept, to help a hospital treat dementia patients.

Apprentices at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in King's Lynn need the items which they say could play a vital part in helping older patients with dementia to make sense of their lives.

The apprentices are reconstructing a 1950s-style reminiscence room at the hospital, as part of the new project.

It will be used to help patients with dementia step back in time and unlock stories from their past. This, in turn, will help hospital staff to build a rounded picture of the patient as a person, and help with management of their medical conditions.

Mental health specialist 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.

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'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.'

The nine-strong team of apprentices is undertaking the project as part of the Brathay Apprentice Challenge 2014. This is the official search to find the Apprentice Team of the Year, supported by the National Apprenticeship Service.

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To win the challenge the apprentices have to prove their team-building, leadership, logistical and communication abilities.

The QEH apprentices have entered the 'Benefiting Local Communities' category, for which they will use a former ward area in the hospital as a base to create a 'Pop Up Reminiscence Room'.

With various painted backdrops depicting areas including a kitchen, a living room, a garden shed and a bus stop, the reminiscence items will be kept in a mobile unit, ready for 'popping up' in ward side rooms as needed.

Construction and preparation of the room settings will take place during the week starting March 3. Apprentice co-ordinator Sharon Carter said: 'To make the pop-up room come alive we need retro articles – anything that would encourage conversation and revive those memories of years ago.

'This might be items of pre-1960s furniture, standard lamps, kitchen tables and chairs, for example, or familiar articles from that time such as curtains, wallpaper, sweet tins, cookery gadgets, books, records and so on.

'If any local people have such items and they can donate them, please let us know. We can arrange collection.'

Do you have any pre-1960s items or materials? Can you donate paint, or any expertise on scene-painting? If you can help out, call Samantha Mansfield at the QEH on 01553 613613, ext 4622, to arrange collection or delivery.

Are you a collector of memorablia from the 1950s or '60s? Email reporter David Bale at

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