Let's chat: Reminiscence cards that draw on South Asian experiences

From the June/July 2018 issue of Dementia together magazine, we speak to a Dementia Friends Champion in Coventry who has developed culturally-specific reminiscence cards.

Taruna Chauhan and some of her reminiscence cards.

As a Dementia Friends Champion, Taruna is no stranger to taking the initiative

Taruna Chauhan is passionate about improving dementia care, and when she saw that reminiscence resources weren’t relevant to many people who weren’t brought up in the UK, she had to do something about it.

‘I found there were no culturally-specific reminiscence cards for people of South Asian origin who had dementia,’ says Taruna. ‘The cards available were ideal for British-born people with dementia, but meaningless otherwise.’

Taruna is no stranger to taking the initiative – as a Dementia Friends Champion she holds information sessions to encourage others to make a difference for people living with dementia.

She drew on her own Hindu Indian background to create a set of cards called Let’s Chat, and she hopes these would prompt memories for people from other South Asian communities too.

‘The Let’s Chat cards are themed by food, travel, clothes and religion,’ says Taruna, ‘and a deck of 25 means there’s enough variety to have lots of conversation.’

Do something

Taruna, aged 54, lives in Coventry and was born in Kenya to Indian parents. Through her training and consultancy work, she helps care homes and home care agencies to make sure they are meeting Care Quality Commission standards.

She says, ‘I became a Dementia Friends Champion to raise awareness of dementia in Asian communities. I realised that awareness was low, so I thought, “Let me do something about it in my area.”’

Taruna used photos that her husband and friends had taken on one side of each Let’s Chat card, with brief descriptions on the other side to prompt conversation. The pictures range from classic Bollywood posters and foods to brightly coloured floor patterns used when celebrating Diwali.

‘If my product can help even one person with dementia to be supported more effectively, then that is an achievement,' says Taruna.

‘The prompts on the back are also useful because a carer not from the South Asian community might not know what the photo is of.’

Taruna has had good feedback about the cards from care providers, and she hopes she can distribute them more widely in future.

‘If my product can help even one person with dementia to be supported more effectively, then that is an achievement.’

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