A lot of good ideas never amount to much, often for lack of sufficient funds or the know-how to implement them successfully. However, sometimes a good notion really does pay off, as in the case of the retro Rem-Pod. The BBC 2 television series ‘Dragon’s Den’ brings people with ideas to the stage, where people with ‘financial clout’ make their judgments on the potential worth of those ideas and whether to invest in a new company or product.
Several years ago Richard Ernest formed a close friendship with an elderly neighbour in the village of Tetbury, whose wife was suffering from dementia. Richard’s visits with his friend to the local elderly care centre sparked the realisation that dementia sufferers respond to familiar scenes and surroundings, most of which are lacking in typical care homes, and he set out to design a portable ‘pop-up’ scenario that could transform clinical housing into a comfort zone for residents.
Thus the Reminiscence Pod, or Rem-Pod was conceived in 2009, and the 35-year-old, a father of two himself, had his start in a business that has already contributed to the well-being of many dementia patients in around 400 care homes and, so far, 40 NHS hospitals.
Studies have shown that for dementia sufferers, the remembered past is often much more comfortable than the confusing present, and ‘reminiscence rooms’ have become quite popular in care homes, but they have been more of a luxury item since most cannot afford the space or the investment. Ernest’s Rem-Pods are can be set up or packed away as needed and with minimal cost.
Though the business has thrived to a limited extent, the infusion of £100,000 is a very welcome outcome of the entrepreneur’s presentation to the Dragons. Mr Ernest said that presentation was the scariest thing he’d ever done, but he convinced two of the Dragons, Peter Jones and Deborah Meaden, to come up with the requested sum. Both were very impressed with Richard’s conviction and clarity, and Jones noted the potential for “. . . a successful business with a social conscience.”