A SPECIALLY created mural is helping to re-root memories for patients on a Royal Oldham Hospital dementia ward.

The Rowan Tree of Life, designed and painted by hospital support worker Simon Young, is being used as a reminiscence tool on the Rowan Ward, helping people to re-connect with their past.

The beautifully sculpted tree complete with wildlife and attachable "memory" leaves and buds takes pride of place in the patients' lounge and is being used for occupational therapy sessions to draw out memories and create conversations.

Simon, who trained in graphic design and has always had a love of art, said he was approached by occupational therapist technical instructor Yvette Hodge and ward manager Nichola Kinane to produce the piece after they liked one of his previous works of art on the mental health ward.

""The Rowan Tree of Life offers a more specific reminiscence experience in that occupational therapists, nursing staff and relatives will be engage with patients on a specific subject such as earliest memories or thoughts and they will be added onto the graphics which make up the tree which changes with the seasons," said Simon.

"It's amazing. They can remember every detail from events in their childhood yet they can't remember what happened earlier in the day and this is all part of helping them to engage with others and have conversations."

"Because we have trouble getting some patients into the therapy room, this is less threatening," said Yvette.

"They can put their feelings on the tree and visualise their thoughts. It will help conversations to start, even at the lowest level.

Nichola added: "This tree will be really important for us. Communication is a big part of our job and getting patients to express themselves. This tree will be used as a tool to get them to open up."