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A thoughtful and personal gift for a loved one

How Kathryn is using Shooglebox to help her auntie with dementia

One of the most powerful uses of Shooglebox we've come across is creating a box of personal memories for an elderly relative who's struggling with their own memory through dementia.

Kathryn Bedford, from Leeds, came up with the idea when she was chatting to a friend who's part of the Shooglebox team. He was showing her how to use Shooglebox to make a personal gift for someone – a virtual box of things that are special to them.

A box of memories

Kathryn immediately thought of her Auntie Elsie in Sunderland who had recently been diagnosed with dementia. The onset was fast so she had to move into a specialist residential home – and with Covid it was impossible for Kathryn to visit.


She thought creating a personal Shooglebox would be a lovely way to help her auntie remember and connect to some of her past through photos, videos and songs that are close to her heart.


And she realised it could also help the care staff get to know Elsie better and have more meaningful conversations.


She set about filling a memory box with personal photos including one of the pork butcher's shop in Southwick her auntie's father owned. She tracked down old photos and videos on social media that captured places as her auntie knew them in the 40s, 50s and 60s – like the Cat and Dog steps down to Roker beach near her first home.

She added these to the box, alongside YouTube video clips from her auntie's favourite films – including The Sound of Music and the King and I – and big band sounds from the dance halls of Sunderland she loved to visit.  


Kathryn said: "Shooglebox will be an amazing way for the care team to get to know my auntie. The onset of her dementia was rapid, so she moved into the home fairly swiftly in May. Unfortunately, I've never been able to visit the home because of lockdown so the care staff know very little about my auntie."

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She likes the way she can add personal notes to the back of the photos and things she uploads – so she can give background and context for the care staff when they’re looking through them on a tablet with Elsie.


She said: "I FaceTime my auntie on a regular basis and have a chat with the staff on the call. The staff are fantastic, but it is not the same as being able to visit in person where the conversation flows more freely and there is more of a chance for the staff to get to know about my Auntie. Sometimes on the calls she recalls very early memories from when she was growing up. The more information and background the staff have about my Auntie the happier I feel, as I believe it will help my Auntie settle in her new surroundings by helping the staff talk about the early memories and interests. Also to make new friends with other residents who may have things in common."

With Shooglebox she's now been able to send Elsie’s carers a link to the box so they can get a picture of her past life and some of her passions – and use it to help spark happy memories and hopefully improve the quality of her life.


Tony Cuthbertson, Kathryn's friend and a Shooglebox director, said: "It's fantastic that Kathryn spotted such a positive and practical way to use Shooglebox to do something to help her auntie. We've been speaking to Dementia UK about what she's done and they're really excited about the idea. It would be wonderful if Kathryn's idea inspires people in a similar situation to create a box of memories for their own relatives and friends." 

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