AN innovative programme which uses film to stimulate memory has been found to have helped those with dementia.

The Yorkshire Film Archive – which is based at the University of York St John – has used archive footage to bring past events and experiences back to life for viewers.

Themed DVDs and online films form a reminiscence resource pack known as Memory Bank, which is being used by health care professionals to stimulate memories.

The success of the project has been supported by feedback from users who have said the footage has prompted stories and started discussions.

All of those asked said the films brought back happy memories.

The York project is now due to be launched throughout the UK.

Sue Howard, director of Memory Bank, said: “We interviewed a cross-section of around 25 per cent of organisations who have bought Memory Bank in the year since it was launched and 100 per cent of them found it to be beneficial.”

Memory Bank was developed in response to a growing demand for new resources to support older people experiencing a range of challenges ranging from isolation, low mood and anxiety, to memory loss or poor communication due to ageing or health-related problems such as dementia.

The programme was developed by the Yorkshire Film Archive over a two-year period with the support of £200,000 of funding from the Dunhill Medical Trust and Screen Heritage UK Programme.

The development team included health care professionals, older people, families and carers.

A mental health adviser at York’s Hartrigg Oaks said in feedback: “Communication is definitely improved between participants and staff, and can bring around a role reversal with the participants being in a knowledgeable position to explain things to staff rather than the other way around.”

Memory Bank – which was launched last year – has also been shortlisted for Outstanding Dementia Care Product at the 2013 National Dementia Care Awards. The winners will be announced tomorrow.