Bringing a piece magic to Cardinal Heenan House

Tovertafel is pioneering device to stimulate activity

The Dutch word 'Tovertafel' may not mean anything to your average resident of Roby Mill near Upholland but in one corner of the village – at Cardinal Heenan House – it means a great deal indeed.

The Tovertafel is an innovative tool for people living with mid-to-late-stage dementia – and thanks to the efforts of a committed group of fundraisers, Cardinal Heenan House has recently acquired one for its residents.

Established by the Sons of Divine Providence as an Orione Care home, Cardinal Heenan House specialises in caring for people with a diagnosis of dementia and the installation of the Tovertafel – meaning magic box – is an illustration of its pioneering work. It is a small box containing a high-quality projector, infra-red sensors and a speaker, which projects light simulations onto a table which are designed to trigger a sense of reminiscence. These colourful objects respond to hand and arm movements – such as balloons that can be popped – and this stimulates a level of physical and social activity rarely seen in people living with dementia.

The nine-month fundraising project began with a £500 donation from Chris Wright who said: 'It's very special for me to be involved as my grandmother passed away with Alzheimer's when I was young and I know she would have loved the Tovertafel.'

Another contribution of £1,000 came when activities coordinator Christine Edge and Beth Harvey, a young volunteer, ran the Wigan 10K. Kerry Ellison, manager of Cardinal Heenan House, said: 'I'm overwhelmed with the efforts made by families, friends and staff to fundraise for this magical piece of equipment. Seeing at first hand the joy on resident's faces is magical.'