Call-to-Mind is a fun and interactive game that combats boredom and promotes connections for those living with dementia. We spoke to founder, Laura Templeton, about its positive impact 

‘The concept of Call-to-Mind was actually formed more than 25 years ago, by my sister Angela,’ says game developer Laura Templeton. ‘It was born of her frustration and anger at the way people with dementia were abandoned. She worked as an occupational therapist with the elderly and felt sure there must be some way to connect. Angela knew that asking questions through a game format would be kinder and less-threatening for them, so she designed the very first version of Call-to-Mind. I was a graphic designer at the time, working for various health care clients, and had designed games as teaching aids, so it was natural that we combined our skills.’

However, when Angela became ill and was no longer able to work, Laura’s continued passion for the project, coupled with her commitment to her sister’s idea, led her back to the game years later.

‘I decided that now my children were grown up and dementia was beginning to be taken seriously, I had to do all I could to market the game. This was Angela’s dream and I felt I couldn’t let her down.’

Encouraging communication
It’s lucky she did… the game is already having a profoundly positive impact on people with dementia and their carers, from family members to care home staff.

‘When people first see the game, it brings a smile to their face as it’s so bright, cheery and looks like fun,’ explains Laura. ‘It enables all players to chat about themselves and know that others are genuinely interested in what they have to say. It gives everyone an opportunity to share memories, stimulate the brain and bond with each other in a way that feels natural.’

The game works by encouraging conversation: players pick a card, which asks them a question – it could be about their earlier life or something they like – to encourage talking and conversation. But the beauty of it is the person doesn’t have to remember much, because the questions are designed to be opinion-based.

Building confidence
As a former dementia carer to her late mother, Laura explains why the game is so effective: ‘One of the problems of dementia is that a person may feel embarrassed or frustrated in taking part in conversations. This can result in an increasing lack of confidence and withdrawal from a group or family. The family and carers may also find it difficult to think of things to chat about.

‘The joy of seeing how people change after playing my game is well worth the hard work I put into developing it. You can see the increase in confidence, self-esteem and general demeanour. The game encourages people to talk not only about their past, but also of the present and even the future. The questions stimulate the mind, trigger forgotten memories and enable people to talk about their life. It’s delightful to see different generations talking together, getting to know more about each other and giggling at each other’s responses. The comment I hear most often is, “I didn’t know that about you!’

Adds Laura: ‘It was a surprise to me that residents in care homes don’t often talk to each other, so I was delighted to see that, by playing Call-to-Mind, they were finding shared interests and happily chatting away. Mostly people come away from playing the game feeling uplifted.’

More info
For more information about Call-to-Mind’s ability to promote connection, communication and engagement, and to purchase the board game, please visit www.call-to-mind.com

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