Playing Call to mind…

Is Call to mind... easy to play?
Yes! It involves simply spinning a spinner, choosing one of four coloured cards, matching an image and answering a question.

What age groups can play?
Anyone from about 10 upwards. As all ages can play, it provides an easy and enjoyable way to get two or more generations talking together.

How many people can play
Two to four players can easily sit round the board together.

At what stage of dementia is it played?
It is best used in the early-to-mid stages of dementia, or when somebody has mild cognitive impairment.

Can people at different stages and abilities play together?
Yes, it is easy to adjust the way the game is played according to need.

Do you need to have dementia to play?
No. Because Call to mind… stimulates conversation and players can voice opinions and talk about what they like, it is a great way to get to know anyone in an easy, relaxed way.

Can it be played with strangers?
Yes, it is a fun and entertaining way to get to know someone. It can, for example, be a good way for carers and care home guests to get to know a new resident. As it is fun and non-threatening, even normally shy people often feel relaxed and confident enough to share their experiences and opinions.

Do players need to be able to read?
No. As long as there is someone to read out the questions, players can just listen before answering.

Does someone need to be ‘in charge'?
As with any board game, there needs to be someone who has read the instructions and can support the others in playing correctly. The feedback forms, if required, are best filled in by someone who is observing, rather than playing.

What if someone doesn’t like board games, or doesn’t want to answer a particular question?
People don’t have to play the full game to enjoy or benefit from it. The question cards alone can be used to stimulate conversations across a range of topics and so make communication easier.
It’s also not a problem if someone doesn’t want to answer a particular question. They can be offered another card, or play can go on to the next player. There is never any pressure to talk about a particular topic.

What if someone doesn’t like board games, or doesn’t want to answer a particular question?
People don’t have to play the full game to enjoy or benefit from it. The question cards alone can be used to stimulate conversations across a range of topics and so make communication easier.
It’s also not a problem if someone doesn’t want to answer a particular question. They can be offered another card, or play can go on to the next player. There is never any pressure to talk about a particular topic.

How long does a game last?
Most players find that a 45-minute game works particularly well. However, people can play for as long as they like.

How Call to mind… first came to mind

Whose idea was it?
The concept was conceived by Angela Newton, an occupational therapist working in elderly care, who was concerned at the poor treatment and understanding of people with dementia. The final game was designed by her sister, Laura Templeton, a graphic designer with years of experience in medical illustration and games design.

Have any dementia experts been involved?
Yes. University College London’s Professor of Psychiatry of Older People Gill Livingston and her colleagues spent more than four years researching, trialling and writing the Call to mind questions.

How Call to mind… benefits different types of people

How does the game benefit a person with dementia?
Playing Call to mind can help people with dementia in many mays. Most simply by helping them to connect with, and recall, positive memories. It can also make them feel less lonely, as the game helps spark conversations and so makes it easier for them to enjoy quality time with family, friends and carers, across all generations. The game can also boost the morale and self-esteem of someone with dementia, particularly when other players show genuine interest in their opinions and experiences.

How can it stimulate memories?
The questions are often about things that an older person might not have discussed for a while, such as a holiday they particularly enjoyed or where they grew up. This can prompt distinct memories. As well as stimulating the mind, playing the game also exercises the senses, hand movement and speech.

How can it encourage conversations?

As with any dialogue, one person’s observation sparks off related comments from others. So that, with Call to mind, someone kicks off the conversation by answering a question, after which other players share their experiences and opinions.

How can it help family, friends and carers?
People sometimes struggle to find things to talk about with people with dementia. Call to mind selects topics of conversation randomly, so there’s always something to stimulate conversation. This can make spending time together more interesting and enables people to discover new things about each other. “I never knew that!” is a frequently heard comment.

It can be particularly rewarding for those who care for both children and elderly parents. Because it is designed to be played by different generations, it’s an activity that all ages can enjoy and benefit from.

How can it support person-centred care?
Call to mind… helps identify people’s preferences and interests, making it easier to suggest future activities that they will like and enjoy. This makes it an ideal tool for designing individually-crafted care.

How can I record and share things that have been said?
The game includes colour-coded feedback sheets, which can be used to record information. The sheets are designed to fit into a care plan folder, so that all carers can access them.

Why is Call to mind better than other board games for people with dementia?

Because it was designed and researched by a specialist team at University College London to help people living with dementia – both those with the diagnosis, and their families, friends and carers.

Would Call to mind be a suitable gift?
Yes, it’s a wonderful present to give family or friends who are concerned about memory loss and want to stimulate conversations. It can also be an ideal thank-you gift to care homes, memory cafés or day-care centres.

Does it help cure dementia?
No, as yet there is no cure for dementia. However, all studies indicate that mental and physical stimulation can help slow progression of the disease.