Thanks to the use of an innovative visual language, communication for people with dementia is being transformed. From today, a set of free dementia resources from Bob’s Brainwaves and Widgit will be available to anyone that wishes to use them. They will give people with dementia the chance to communicate with friends and family, and help them to stay independent for longer.

The dementia pack was revealed for the first time yesterday at Meadows Park Care Home in Louth, Lincolnshire, during Dementia Action Week. With over 900,000 people living with dementia in the UK, the resources are available to support anyone with memory loss.

Former teacher Chris Suich, whose husband Bob has dementia, developed the pack in partnership with visual communication experts Widgit. The kit explains key routines in a visual way such as how to make a cup of tea and the order they should follow to get dressed. Timetables shown visually mean that people with dementia know what to expect from their day, where they are going and what they will eat.

Rebecca Lynch, education specialist at Widgit, said: “Dementia sufferers for so long have not been able to say how they feel or what they want, even something as simple as asking for a cup of tea. These new resources change that. We worked with families of those living with dementia to make sure the visuals are exactly what’s needed to help people with dementia to communicate.

Carers can view, edit and print picture signs, labels and symbols to put on kitchen drawers to show where the cups, plates and bowls go when unloading the dishwasher, and visual notes to stick around the house to remind a loved one to turn off the tap or lock the door.

Chris Suich, the founder of charity Bob’s Brainwaves – named after her husband Bob – drew on her 30 years of teaching children with special educational needs in Lincolnshire to come up with the idea of the support kit.

Inspired by the activities she used to plan for students with special educational needs, Chris has also developed music sheets for singing together and picture games such as snap, colour sorting and word searches. These all help to keep dementia sufferers’ minds active, support their communication and provide opportunities to have fun.

She trialled them with her husband Bob and adapted them alongside Widgit for the support pack, so all families could have a chance to use them with their loved ones.

Chris said: “This pack is dedicated to my husband Bob. The picture symbols were key to keeping Bob at home for as long as possible and helped to lower his anxiety. I still use them with him in the care home where he is now.

“I am so happy to have worked with Widgit to launch this new kit to help people with dementia to communicate and maintain their independence. With the help of Jayne Pegg who runs The Memory Cafe in Louth, we were able to test the resources with members of her dementia group and they gave invaluable feedback which helped us to create the final pack. I would love them to be used in all care homes and in all families as they give people with dementia a voice.

Chris and Rebecca were invited to share the resources at the Houses of Parliament by Victoria Atkins, the secretary of state for health and social care.  

Widgit donated the resources for the dementia pack free of charge.

About Widgit

For over 40 years, Widgit has developed innovative symbols and software used in over 10,000 schools, thousands of homes and multiple healthcare settings to support language, communication and learning. Widgit Symbols are increasingly being used to ensure key public services, local attractions and sporting venues are inclusive for children and adults with special needs.

For more information, visit: https://www.widgit.com/success-stories/health-emergency-justice/bobs-brainwaves.htm