Smell & Tell, a mood-boosting game that tests people’s memory using familiar, everyday smells, has been developed to support social interaction and diminish feelings of isolation amongst older people and care home residents.
The game uses fragrances as a conversation stimulus, with each scent carefully selected to spark a memory and creating a moment of pleasure. Smells associated chocolate, toast, and cinnamon feature, along with location and situational smells such as ‘kitchen’; ‘wardrobe’, and even ‘dentist’.
The game was developed as part of an initiative that challenged employees at fragrance and taste company Givaudan to support communities most affected by the pandemic. Givaudan’s Solène Cauvin-Wirz and Zoe Cogger came up with the idea for Smell & Tell after seeing the impact that isolation had on care home residents. They created the game as a way to stimulate people’s memory and as a way for them to interact and have fun. After a successful pilot, they were awarded funding from the Givaudan Foundation to professionally manufacture 500 games, which will be donated to care homes in Kent, Surrey, and Greater London this spring.
Smell & Tell falls under the umbrella of an initiative created by the International Fragrance Association UK (IFRA UK) called Changing Lives Through Fragrance, which aims to highlight and promote the importance of our sense of smell. This year the focus of the programme is around wellbeing and dementia.
Rhian Slee, UK fragrance sales director at Givaudan and chair of IFRA UK, said: “The COVID-19 pandemic really highlighted to us how important our sense of smell is and how not having a functioning sense of smell can really impact on your life – sometimes leading to feelings of isolation and depression.
“Yet our sense of smell is vital to our wellbeing because the olfactory receptors in the nose connect us directly to areas of the brain that create memories. That’s why our sense of smell is so important to our wellbeing and to feeling connected as it links us to familiar aromas evoking feelings of nostalgia. We are delighted to have developed Smell & Tell through the Givaudan Foundation as we hope it is going to bring a sense of connection and enjoyment to the people in the care homes we are able to supply it to.”
Alison Knight, front of house receptionist and the lifestyle activity coordinator from Park View Care Centre, Ashford, Kent said: “This game is really good for all our residents whether they are mobile or not. The reactions of our residents when they smell something they recognise is priceless. We have had a lot of fun with the game!”