Hibs, Hearts and other SPL teams are set to play a key role in an innovative pilot project that aims to stimulate the memories of people with dementia in Edinburgh.
Bield’s care home in Haugh Street, Edinburgh, has pioneered the scheme which involves volunteers taking residents to football matches at Easter Road and Tynecastle or further afield.
The Extra Time project will also ensure residents who cannot get to the grounds because of mobility issues will also have the chance to get involved in rekindling memories of Scotland’s footballing greats through the creation of a reminiscence group.
The project illustrates the ‘Free to Be’ philosophy of Bield – one of Scotland’s leading providers of housing and care services – which aims to help older people to do the things they love but which might otherwise be taken away without the right help and support.
The idea for the project was conceived by Bield’s Service Manager Kathryn Telford along with staff member Lynn Gibson, who realised that the attractions of Hibs and Hearts, in particular, run deep in the memories of people from Edinburgh.
Ms Telford said: “Many of the residents at Haugh Street are avid football fans who have watched and supported their teams for years.
“While we know most of the residents will have followed Hibs or Hearts but it’s also likely others will have connections with teams from Glasgow and the central belt. It is hoped that we can extend the scheme to outside Edinburgh to that residents could also visit for example Parkhead or Stirling Albion’s Forthbank.
“The objective of the project is to provide memory stimulation by revisiting former passions and pastimes.
“The trips to football matches offer a welcome distraction, will build confidence and can have a lasting effect by evoking fond memories which have been clouded by old age or the loss of independence.”
The idea is proving a hit with those involved with the scheme.
Hibs fan John Young, 80, said: “I’m a supporter of the great Hibees and I loved watching the Famous Five – Reilly, Turnbull, Smith, Johnstone and Ormond. Smith was my hero.
“Hibs were the first British club to enter the European Cup.
“In the season of 1979-1980 George Best signed for Hibs, and what a talent he still had.”
The project is particularly special for Helen Renton who is looking forward to attending her very first match – at the age of 80.
Miss Renton has watched football on TV for years but never attended a game.
She said: “I have never been to a football game, but enjoy watching football on TV. I am looking forward to going to a game – this will be my first match.”
Funding for the project – which will mostly pay for staffing and ticket costs – is being provided in part by the Care Home Small Investment Fund which provided £5,235 and by the Queensberry Housing Trust which donated £5,000.
Haugh Street is now looking for volunteers to get involved with the initiative by taking residents to the games – volunteers would receive their ticket for free.
Convener of Health and Wellbeing for the City of Edinburgh Council, Councillor Ricky Henderson, said: “Extra Time is a fantastic initiative and an innovative way to stimulate memories while providing important social interaction. I am sure it will be of great benefit to all who take part in these very worthwhile activities and I hope it will be well supported by volunteers.”
The home is also planning to create a group for residents who cannot make it to the grounds to reminisce about football memories from as far back as the 1930s.
Brian Logan, Chief Executive at Bield said: “Our ‘Free to Be’ philosophy is at the heart of what Bield is all about, and it allows older people who still have ambition and drive the freedom to do the things they love but which might otherwise be taken away without the right help and support.
“We are grateful to our staff for their innovative ideas and their willingness to create programmes with the wellbeing of our service users in mind.
“The general public have always shown a great deal of interest in our volunteer activities and I’m sure it will be a similar situation with our Extra Time scheme.”
Bield is a registered charity who started out in Bo’ness, 1971. They have since become a major provider in housing and care services for over 20,000 people across a range of 22 local authority areas. This impressive reputation has placed Bield as one of the top housing care services available to older people living in Scotland.