Dementia patients at Epsom and St Helier Hospitals are reliving happy memories thanks to ‘reminiscence suitcases’ filled with items from their youth.

Items include ration cards, old-fashioned dial telephones, cosmetic products in original packaging and Elvis Presley memorabilia.

Surrey Comet:

Dementia volunteers and dementia staff including chief nurse, Charlotte Hall (far right)

Sue Cook, leader of the Older Persons Assessment and Liaison (OPALs), said: "Sights, smells, sounds and feeling all stimulate memories for everybody.

"We’ve found that a lot of the everyday items from by-gone decades that we don’t really see any more can be great tools for unlocking people’s happy memories.

"This is a bit of a novelty for us members of staff, but more importantly they can be absolutely fantastic for reminding our patients living with dementia of happy memories they have, which in turn can lead to really engaging conversations between them and our staff.

"It can also help the person's family and friends, as they see a more relaxed and chatty patient."

Other innovative methods in the hospitals’ dementia care include care charts on patients’ beds, which indicate information about their likes and dislikes, and hand-knitted mittens called ‘Twiddlemuffs’.

Ms Cook said: "After we introduced the care charts our staff agreed they let them engage much more quickly with patients, who find it difficult to communicate."