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West Vancouver library is now loaning special pastime kits for people living with dementia

Simple music players and pastime kits are now available
West Van library dementia kitsWEB
West Vancouver Memorial Library is now loaning dementia-friendly kits. photo WVML
West Vancouver Memorial Library is now loaning out special kits for people experiencing dementia that will help them enjoy music or take part in a board game with a little more ease.

The library added five simple music players and five pastime kits to its permanent collection earlier this fall.

The initiative is part of the Dementia-Friendly North Shore Action Plan, a partnership between all three North Shore municipalities, the Alzheimer Society of B.C., Vancouver Coastal Health and a number of key stakeholders which aims to encourage adapting facilities, infrastructure, programs and services to be accessible and inclusive to people with dementia. 

“The library is part of it,” said Lynn Brockington, community experience co-ordinator at West Vancouver library, who noted that often when people experience dementia or memory loss they can also lose the desire or ability to read. “There’s no pleasure in it for them anymore.”

As an important public space, it’s the libraries job to help cater experiences for those living with dementia as well as their families and caregivers, added Brockington.

The simple music players are easy-to-operate devices designed to make it easier for people whose cognitive abilities have changed to listen to music.

The devices can be used as a radio, or be preloaded with a selection of classical music or popular tunes from the 1950s and ’60s all curated by library staff, said Brockington, who added there’s also the option of loading the players with traditional Chinese and Persian music.

The pastime kits contain various items to help users stimulate their memory and provide helpful cognitive activities, such as games, puzzles, toys and sing-along DVDs.

Some of the items include a playable art ball featuring multi-coloured and interconnected spheres that can be scrunched, turned and twisted into a variety of shapes and patterns, as well as a little wood item called a Fidget Widget that helps people experiencing dementia keep their hands busy and their mind relaxed.

“They’re intended for that tactile experience,” said Brockington.

The simple music players and pastime kits are great for family members of dementia patients to check out for their loved ones, as well as recreation co-ordinators at care homes, said Brockington.

Anyone with a West Vancouver Memorial Library card who could benefit from the items is allowed to borrow the kits.

In a statement, Pat Cumming, the library’s head of customer and community experiences, said: “We are really happy to be able to provide these kits to support people living with dementia and their caregivers to stay active and engaged. The kits contain objects that can trigger memory to create special moments of connection with our loved ones.”