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National Museum uses Dementia Action Week to Focus Attention on Visitor Experience

Published: 20th May 2021 16:26
• Growing relationship with Dementia Friends initiative is creating a welcoming experience for visitors living with dementia
• Over 50 staff now trained as Dementia Friends
• Museum team used lockdown period to recruit a further twelve staff to Dementia Friends team and develop their training

 The outreach team at the National Museum of the Royal Navy is marking Dementia Action Week (17th-23rd May 2021), with the milestone that it has trained over 50 staff as Dementia Friends. Some of the training has been achieved during lockdown through online learning and boosts the skills of the team to offer a dedicated welcome to those living with dementia.

Throughout the last year of closures and restrictions, NMRN, which is a member of the Dementia Friendly Heritage Network, has run sessions with staff members to focus on creating a positive experience for visitors with dementia. The NMRN has adopted Dementia Friends, an Alzheimer's Society programme campaigning to change the public's perceptions of dementia.

 The NMRN's Community Producer, Jo Valentine says:

"We want to create the best experiences for our visitors at our museum attractions so decided as part of preparing for re-opening to make the most of an unusually quiet time due to the government closures and offer colleagues the opportunity to attend the live stream Dementia Friends Sessions."

 Jo explains the impact of these sessions in creating a comfortable experience for visitors with dementia:

"The session allowed people to think about our visitors' experiences on entering our historic ships and planes in a new light."

The community team is also currently working on ‘HMS Victory - The People's Ship', a project which will ask the public to share their memories of HMS Victory. These memories will be shared as part of an object handling COVID secure box for use in care homes.

Jo Valentine continues:

"Sharing memories is a way for people to feel connected to their local community, especially important in a time where we have been locked away. In the past, we have also run "Tea and Sea" sessions with Shearwater Residential Care Home where residents and relatives explore and reminiscence together through objects."

Jo highlights the importance of this kind of outreach:

"An object is like a magic key that can ‘unlock' a memory for someone. The act of putting on a sailor's hat can remind them of a day being in the dockyard or even the act of putting on a hat reminds them of putting a hat on for church."

 This ongoing work is part of the NMRN's long-standing history of dementia outreach which includes running sessions with the British Legion's Veterans ‘Kitbags lives on', a group for veterans with dementia, over the past 8 years. The NMRN's outreach has also included running a Dementia Day in 2017, creating artwork with a dementia run art group called Generate Artists from the Aspex Gallery and running sessions for Pompey in the Community's ‘Life in Chimes' dementia group.

The NMRN is dedicated to creating a positive experience for both visitors with dementia and those with dementia in the local community. Anyone who would like to share their memories of HMS Victory for the ‘HMS Victory - The People's Ship' project are invited to do so through sending them to this email:

The National Museum of the Royal Navy has now reopened their sites across the country in line with easing Coronavirus measures. Tickets can be bought online at, where visitors can also book their timed booking slots. With COVID safety measures reviewed and in place, pre-booking ahead of a visit remains essential.

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