A new specialist dementia centre, which has partly been designed to evoke memories from the 1950s, has opened in New Malden.

Devonshire Dementia Day Centre was opened at 215A Malden Road on September 27, during a special ceremony which saw Kingston mayor Thay Thayalan cut the ribbon.

Guests at the opening ceremony were able to experience an eight minute free virtual dementia experience, which uses sunglasses and headphones to affect the wearer’s senses to help experience what it is like living with dementia.

The new centre features a sensory garden patio, as well as an interior that evokes the colours, accessories and textures of the 1950s, including a Lyons Tea Room and a shop offering a market stall experience, thereby enhancing the feeling of familiarity while inducing comfort.

Director Smithson Sasi said: “Just because a loved one has been diagnosed with dementia, it is not the end of their story: at Devonshire Dementia Day Centre we offer renewed hope for a healthy and joyous life.”

The director leads the centre’s team and has a nursing degree, a business degree as well as nine years of experience in the care of older people who live with dementia.

The centre’s staff are all specially trained to deliver therapies that reflect the most comprehensive research and thinking in the field, and are trained to recognize triggers that can result in unpredictable behaviour, which more often than not is simply a frustrated attempt to communicate when verbal expression has been lost.

All staff are trained to observe and record information so that each person’s unique dementia can be addressed by “cracking the code”.

Focusing on reminiscence, specially designed activities cater to each guest’s specific reality on that particular day, aiming to recreate the experience of lost daily lives.

Purposeful activities such as folding napkins, supervised ironing, washday chores, woodwork maintenance, or even mending and fixing help to recreate the experience of a meaningful daily existence.

Music therapy is used as a powerful intervention that helps to bridge memory gaps; guests often become animated after long lapses of internal isolation, expressing themselves through song, rhythm and melody.

More information can be found on the centre’s website at www.devonshiredementiadaycentre.com