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Archive for June, 2010

A Magic moment of Extraordinary Empathy

We have been exploring the use of doll therapy with a couple of our residents. The idea is that with some people this can satisfy their nurturing need which can otherwise be unfulfilled. The approach is not without its complications as we discovered when one resident became quite agitated with the responsibility of looking after what appeared to her to be a baby.

So we are now quite careful when we introduce dolls that look like babies, but we have recently been trying this with one of our residents who is expressing a strong need to nurture.

Today I was observing this lady who was in the lounge chatting to the doll and caring for it. The resident who was sitting next to me commented on the fact that this lady was talking to a doll. I suggested perhaps she thought it was a baby. She thought about this for a moment, then simply stated  “It’s the child she never had”. Which was exactly on the mark. How did she work this out ?

We are becoming increasingly aware of the extraordinary ability that some people with dementia have to read the body language of the people around them. Perhaps it something like people who go blind and develop their hearing abilities. Whatever it is, it is quite amazing and shows how important it is to create a relaxed and purposeful environment so that residents can feel safe and secure.

Sometimes things just flow….

One of our new residents loves the garden and this afternoon I found her on the terrace watering some of the flower pots. The sweet peas had flowered profusely and so I suggested we pick them together.  After we picked them, she took them into the lounge and showed them around to the residents in the lounge. The fragrance is very specific and many residents instantly recognised it and enjoyed the experience.

We sat down at one of the dining room tables where another lady was sitting quietly, somewhat subdued. A couple of vases were brought out and as we we arranged the flowers one of the gentlemen joined us and helped us with the flower arranging, picking out specific flower colours to order. After a couple of minutes the subdued lady  started to sing quietly and the gentleman commented on her beautiful singing voice. With this encouragement the lady sang a little louder and soon the four of us were singing the old songs together. This in turn brought another lady over who simply loves to sing. We brought out the Rose Lodge song books and had ourselves a proper singalong.

What started out with one resident watering the flowers ended up as a flower arranging and signalong ‘activity’ involving four of the residents. This was more like ‘people living together’ than an organised ‘activity’ and it was just how it should be: perfect.

Being creative with a wheelbarrow

One of our recently joined ladies really enjoys the garden, and today she helped me clear out the hen house. Well actually she watched me while I cleared the hen droppings into the wheelbarrow. As we walked together to the vegetable garden to deposit the droppings, I asked if she wanted to push the wheelbarrow. I was astonished to find that, using it like a zimmer frame, this steadied her walk and she confidently walked the wheelbarrow all the way to the vegetable garden where we deposited the droppings around the tomato plants. The smile on her face was a joy to see, and we lingered in the vegetable garden a little longer, watering those plants that looked a little parched.

Swallow please….

Some people with dementia develop swallowing difficulties in the later stages of their dementia, as the part of the brain that regulates appetite and the control of swallowing muscles is affected by the dementia. At Rose Lodge we try as much as possible for residents to continue to eat a normal diet, as this is for most people more appetitsing and pleasant and so maintains their motivation for eating. Also it maintains their sense of dignity and independence.

Yet there are times that this becomes problematic and over the past couple of months we have been working with the speech and language therapists at Exmouth hospital to assess those residents who were having swallowing difficulties, and where necessary we have adjusted their diets to a soft diet.



Football party at Rose Lodge

Waiting for the goal....

Never one to miss a good party, the residents and staff sat down this afternoon for a jolly football party, complete with drinks and snacks, all organised by Head Carer Karen Bousher. Phew, we’re through….so more football parties to come!