Dementia Awareness Week:  A Bus and a ‘Bake Off’ start dementia conversations

Staff from Cumbria Partnership NHS Foundation Trust’s Memory Matters Team have been trying to get Carlisle talking about dementia using an old fashioned bus and a bake off.

The team were on board Florence, a 1940s bus, in Carlisle city centre. Florence turned heads and started conversations before returning to Carleton Clinic in time for their annual Bake Off competition.

Victoria Irving from Carlisle, who works in the Memory Matters Team at Carlton Clinic explained the importance of events like this:

“It’s about raising awareness of dementia and the services we offer with the public. We want to bring normality to family members when talking about dementia and will be on hand to give advice and support.”

Engagement from the public was fantastic and the bus acted as a great conversation starter. Passer-by Graham Whiteley explained why he thought this approach worked well:

“Memorabilia like this is important for the older generation in terms of bringing back memories.”

The team did as much as they could to encourage people to start a conversation, David Storm, Senior Clinical Services Manager and Dementia lead for CPFT, explained:

“If the bus wasn’t enough to draw people in we were all dressed in 1950’s style clothing and we sang The Who’s ‘Magic Bus’ except we changed the words slightly and sang about ‘The Memory Bus’ some people even joined in!

“Once we had grabbed people’s attention, we had plenty of information about the services we offer and what people can do if they have concerns about their, or a family member’s, memory. We were even able to talk about a new support group for carers that is going to be based in Carlisle library from July.”

The bus then returned to Carleton Clinic to support an open day for families and the annual Bake off.

The open day was designed to be inclusive of all and Florence helped promote the reminiscence theme to take guests back. Live music made the afternoon extra special with one patient’s dog even joining in the celebrations. It gave patients’ families a chance to come and get involved. One guest explained how grateful he was about the care his wife has received:

“I don’t think there will be anywhere else as good as this, the staff have been tremendous.”

Staff and patients from all services across the site entered into the competitive spirit with cakes varying from the classic Victoria sponge to elaborate flans and cheesecakes.

Paul Hollywood wasn’t able to make it so the judging duties were handed to David Storm and with 13 cakes to try he wasn’t disappointed.

He said:

“The open day and the Bake off is always popular at Carleton Clinic. For patients it can give them healthy challenge by encouraging them to do something new or different and to be able to share that with their loved ones in a relaxed atmosphere. For staff it’s also something different and none of the cakes disappointed. It was really hard to judge if I’m honest!”

Third place went to David Bowie inspired cupcakes by patients and staff at Ruskin. A creative chocolate overload from Rowanwood and a chocolate gateau from Ruskin took joint second place. But first prize, and the prestigious Bake Off trophy, went to another patient from Ruskin whose bold flavours impressed the judge. Combining jam with Nutella for the chocolate cake filling proved to be a winning formula!   


Patients, staff and public enjoying the bus and bake off