“Very good idea to combine museum facilities with health care settings. It's nice to know other institutions out there care about our patients' experiences in the hospital.”
Hospital nurse

House of Memories is a pioneering project created by National Museums Liverpool, which is making a real difference to people living with dementia, their carers, families and communities.

The museum-led dementia awareness programme offers training and activities to enable carers to provide person-centred care to support people to live well with dementia. Activities include an interactive training day, access to a free object loan service, and a unique museum memory app which uses images, videos, music and audio to stimulate memory and conversation.

Funded by the Department of Health and Liverpool CCG, the innovative dementia awareness training programme was originally developed for health and social care professionals, and has since expanded to support family carers.

The Innovation Agency was a supporter from the outset, collaborating through an Innovate Dementia programme at Liverpool John Moores University‘s Living Lab. The AHSNs role has been to help promote the My House of Memories app across England. The app was co-created by National Museums Liverpool and people living with dementia and their carers (Mersey Care NHS Foundation Trust and Innovate Dementia) working with Liverpool SME Damibu on the development.

User involvement is key to the success of the app, and was a feature from the initial scoping phase, through to co-creation and user testing.


Challenge / problem identified

As the population ages and people live for longer, dementia has become one of the most important health and care issues facing the world. In England it is estimated that around 676,000 people have dementia.

Dementia mainly affects older people; however for some, dementia can develop earlier, presenting different issues for the person affected, their carers and family.

There are around 670,000 carers of people with dementia in England. It is estimated that one in three people will care for a person with dementia in their lifetime. Half of them are employed and it’s thought that some 66,000 people have already cut their working hours to care for a family member, while 50,000 people have left work altogether.

The cost is estimated at over £26 billion a year and predicted to treble by 2040 – more than the cost of cancer, heart disease and stroke (source: NHS England website).

Actions taken

The Innovation Agency has helped to promote the My House of Memories app across the North West Coast and nationally. There have been presentations by senior staff about My House of Memories at national and regional health and innovation conferences; and the AHSN has been an active participant in museum events, including making a presentation at the Museums Association annual conference – strengthening links between arts and health networks.

The Innovation Agency is a member of the programme’s steering group, overseeing the programme roll-out along with partner organisations, including Health Education England working across the North who supported the Tier 2 Train the Trainer model with North West acute care and community health partners and academics.

A particular achievement for the Innovation Agency was in introducing the My House of Memories app to stakeholders in Lancashire which led to its adoption as part of the area’s NHS Test Beds.

House of Memories features on the AHSNs online sharing platform, the Innovation Exchange; and it  was one of just seven projects selected to appear in AHSN Network and NHS England videos about digital innovations to mark the NHS 70th birthday, in 2018.

Impacts / outcomes

As of May 2018, in the four years since the app’s launch, there have been 24,520 downloads; 39,641 sessions have taken place; 70,717  activities within the app; and 325,731 views of objects in the app. Museum partners in the North West, North East, Midlands, Greater Manchester and the South East have added digital museum content to the app. The app is downloaded in the UK and globally.house of memories

As of May 2018 more than 12,000 participants have attended the training from the North West, North East, Midlands and the South East.

Independent evaluations have shown that key learning outcomes and impact indicators include:

  • Increased awareness and understanding of dementia
  • Skills development including listening, communication and empathy
  • Improved capacity for individual and collective critical, reflective care practice
  • Confidence in trying new approaches to dementia care
  • Improved knowledge, skills and access in relation to memory activities
  • Appreciation of creative and interactive training approach
  • Enhanced appreciation of the relevance and value of museums in dementia care.

In addition, an analysis of social value and return on investment has been undertaken by the Institute of Cultural Capital. The app is used as a learning tool as part of the House of Memories Train the Trainer programme designed to meet Tier 2 objectives as defined by the National Dementia Core Skills Education and Training Framework. NHS Trusts (Countess of Chester Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, The Christie NHS Foundation Trust and Wirral University Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust) facilitate the use of the app within their acute care settings.

Results from Developing Tier 2 skills for good dementia care. The report identified a social return on investment (SROI) of £1: £19.06, reflecting the impact of the training on dementia awareness, standards of care and personal and professional development of the health and social care sector training participants.

“I wholeheartedly support House of Memories because in helping to develop this app it showed myself and my peers that we can still learn and we can still teach. I know that our group is extremely proud to have helped develop this app, knowing the great enjoyment it brings to all that use it.”

Tommy Dunne, chair of the Liverpool Service Users Reference Forum (SURF) a group made up of people living with dementia and family carers.

Plans for the future

House of Memories is increasing its reach nationally and internationally, with cultural partners in Gloucestershire, Scotland and Minnesota, USA now working with National Museums Liverpool to add their own content to the app and deliver House of Memories training. This creates income for National Museums Liverpool to further develop the programme to help it continue to provide a range of free activities and resources, such as the Family and friends dementia awareness workshop, memory suitcase loan service, Meet me at the Museum weekly drop-in sessions, and memory walks.

House of Memories is National Museums Liverpool’s dementia awareness programme and in partnership with other museums, universities and health and social care providers, House of Memories aims to develop the capacity to reach every carer of someone living with dementia.

Which national clinical or policy priorities does this example address?
  • Care and Quality
  • Health and Wellbeing
Start and end dates

House of Memories began in 2012 and is ongoing.

Contact for help and advice

Project contact for further information:
Claire Benjamin, Deputy Director, Education and Visitors
National Museums Liverpool
World Museum, William Brown Street
Liverpool L3 8EN
T: 0151 478 4548

Media contact for further information:
Caroline Kenyon, Director of Communications and Engagement, Innovation Agency
E: Caroline.kenyon@innovationagencynwc.nhs.uk