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'Netflix for seniors' brings joy to care homes

Words by Smiley Team

A streaming platform that has dubbed itself as "Netflix for Seniors" is bringing life back into old 20th century film and newsreels.

Living Memories is a subscription service with an initial free trial, mostly catering to care homes, with the hope of bringing old memories back for the residents.

The platform was started by Brian Norris after years of research into elderly people and particularly those with dementia.

“Archive films are a wonderful way of prompting older people to share memories and life experiences," says Brian.

“Long-term memory is usually one of their strengths, so reminiscence encourages them to communicate and feel more confident about themselves.”

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The service was launched by Living Memories C.I.C., a not-for-profit social enterprise, to reduce isolation and help improve the health and wellbeing of older people. 

As well as sparking memories, the old films aim to encourage elderly people to reminisce with families, friends and carers, to keep their minds active.

The idea began with publishing DVDs and resources, and running Tea and Memory groups where archive programmes and newsreels were shown to community groups. 

Founder Brian saw first-hand the response that older viewers had to watching some of their early cultural memories play out again.

"At the group sessions we found that many older people, including those living with dementia, who had previously been reluctant to talk, started to reminisce about their lives and shared experiences, to make new friends and get to know their neighbours," he said. 

NHS social prescribing nurses in Brian’s local area of East Devon started referring people to the sessions. Demand was so high that Brian and wife Leonore decided to develop Living Memories as an online service that could be used by care homes, local memory cafés and in people’s own homes.

After an initial free trial, care homes or individuals can pay a £5 monthly subscription fee to access the full, regularly updated archive of footage.

The Abbeyfield Society, a charity which operates over 450 retirement houses across the UK, has signed up to use Living Memories Online for its residents. 

It is also partnering with Living Memories to create virtual and live Tea & Memories reminiscence groups around the UK in the communities in which Abbeyfield operates.

“The streaming service helps us engage older people within our own homes and also to connect with local communities to reach elderly, lonely people," says Abbeyfield Society Chief Executive, David McCullough.

"It is an exemplar of the strategy for people to come together and open up friendships and initiate conversations, particularly in these difficult times of the pandemic“It is exciting to be finding new ways to be creative and to have a positive impact on people’s lives. We know that our residents’ well-being is lifted.”

Inspired to act?

SUPPORT: You can support Living Memories by buying a subscription. Visit their website.

VOLUNTEER: Volunteer with Age UK, a charity dedicating to improving the wellbeing of older people. 


This article aligns with the following UN SDGs

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