Difference between theory and practice

Discussion in 'Researchers, students and professionals' started by Kira, Jan 2, 2016.

  1. Kira

    Kira Registered User

    Dec 31, 2015
    In all the years I have repeatedly noticed how big the difference is between what you want to do and what is possible.

    There are so many wonderful things specifically for people with dementia, but I have a feeling that they exist only in catalogs. How many great books or games I've seen in these catalogs. It would be fantastic to work with these things.

    But if one asks for it, I often gets the answer: "No, that's too expensive ! Work with what's there ! "

    Great. What I often have are toys for children. Too small ... color not good to see ... not easy to keep it in hands for elderly. Not tailored to the needs of people with dementia.

    I've already brought so much of my own things, but that's not the sense.

    Why is it so hard to understand ... that's easier to do a good job with good working material? I'm not McGyver, I can not tinker everything by myself.

    And that was from the beginning. From the first day, I work with people with dementia. It's getting frustrating ...
  2. TinaT

    TinaT Registered User

    Sep 27, 2006
    Hate to say it Kiera but not many activity coordinators have any kind of a budget at all and whatever they spend, they have to fund from organising events such as summer fairs, Christmas raffles etc. Really and truly it isn't what you spend but how you use the time to interact with residents which is the important factor.

    There are good catalogue or web sites which could generate ideas for you to make simple activities for yourself.

    There are numerous things which individual residents have interests in. Just sitting and talking with individual residents can give good ideas as to where their interests may or may not lie.

    Ladies who can no longer knit can enjoy looking at knitting patterns or just sitting with you as you knit can instigate meaningful communication. A packet of seeds and empty yoghurt pots costs very little if a resident would like to grow something. Taking a resident to a local pub and having a pint and a chat costs very little. Reading a newspaper with a resident the same.

    Take heart, you can make a HUGE difference to a residents life just by taking an honest interest in them and what they like to do.
  3. fizzie

    fizzie Registered User

    Jul 20, 2011
    there is also a great facebook page for activity coordinators if you search geriactive
  4. canary

    canary Registered User

    Feb 25, 2014
    South coast
    Can you get a local knitting/sewing club to make and donate fiddle muffs/aprons/rugs?
  5. Kira

    Kira Registered User

    Dec 31, 2015
    Of course, I know what you mean.

    But the bosses want professionalism, but are unwilling to give the slightest issue it. No secretary brings her printer paper, no Roofers his brick and no baker his flour to his work ...but we are forced to work like that. It is not a problem to bring the personal things with (sometimes), but unfortunately it is become a matter of course.

    Yes, that´s true. But to realize these activities we need a little bit of material. And we don´t have the material or the money to buy it. So, what are we doing ? We work with our private things to make a good job. That's what I mean with "frustrating".

    I agree, just sitting and talking is very important.

    We have residents with very high dementia. They are no longer able to recognize the simplest things or to say what they want. Of course we have to try to figure out what is more important for them. But if not even the simplest work material is present, is it very difficult.

    @Canary: We have already funded a whole room through donations. Knitting, crocheting, sewing ... everything was there. We regularly went with the residents there, but there was absolutely no interest. Most of them can not see well or could not implement things. Even two former dressmakers show no interest. We gave them things in hand and told / asked them, but they wanted to go immediately.

    We have a daily newspaper round, which is hardly accepted by the elderly. We have only one newspaper to choose from, and Current political issues, Accidents and crime are not so optimal for them.

    Yes, I know. But I always have the feeling I could do more.
  6. Shedrech

    Shedrech Volunteer Moderator

    Dec 15, 2012
    Hi Kira
    at dad's home the one thing that seems to please most is music - just having music on in the lounge provides pleasure for many residents and actually can help them stay calm and settled.
    you might chat with residents to find out what they each enjoy - check with their family members and have a look at any info that was provided on admission about likes and dislikes
    have themed afternoons of types of music - classical, piano, jazz, beatles, choral, crooners - link to the ages of the residents as a 90 year old may have different memories and favourites than a 70 year old - and don't fall into the trap of assuming that they will all like music from long ago, a lady in dad's home happily sang along to all the songs from a fairly recent musical, we were amazed as she hardly speaks
    and that's the second favourite - singing
    be it old nursery rhymes or Christmas songs or ... well the trick is to find out
    and it isn't that a musical accompaniment is necessary - sometimes the residents just have a spontaneous sing together

    if the music goes down well, then maybe add in some photos of the singers etc - lots on the internet - and maybe watch some musicals on DVD

    which leads to another possibility - old films and TV programmes - maybe even have a movie afternoon with popcorn
  7. canary

    canary Registered User

    Feb 25, 2014
    South coast
    I didnt mean that they could fund a sewing room. I meant that perhaps they could make the fiddle muffs/aprons/rugs for the residents to use. Im sure a sewing room would be beyond the majority of the residents.
  8. TinaT

    TinaT Registered User

    Sep 27, 2006
    #8 TinaT, Jan 2, 2016
    Last edited: Jan 2, 2016
    I was a teacher for many, many years and got quite used to making, doing things, trying my best to make lessons relative to my pupils. I spent hours of my own time and sometimes money and enjoyed every minute of it.

    Fiddle aprons with different textures such as fur pieces, pom poms etc sewn onto them, a board with plugs, switches, presser buttons and such like for a resident to fiddle with all cost very little time and effort to make and could be made by others if you are willing to ask for help.

    Perhaps with your severely demented residents the very fact that you are there, holding their hand, stroking their hair, singing something they remember, giving them a cup of tea and chatting, looking through a magazine with them, asking did they like their lunch, tea breakfast and discussing what they used to cook, or like to eat, or telling them that you saw their daughter/son, relative visiting them, watching and commenting on a sporting event on the TV, telling them their hair looks nice today,.......a million and one things which makes five minutes of their day a little happier.

    Personal, little things which make a resident feel important, valued as a person no matter how little is their capacity to respond costs nothing except time.

    Giving your time is the most important function you can perform as an activity coordinator. There are staff who have so many jobs they can't even have a five minute conversation with their charges because they are busy seeing to their physical needs.

    I wish you every success in your quest to make residents a little happier in their very difficult lives.

  9. Rageddy Anne

    Rageddy Anne Registered User

    Feb 21, 2013
    My husband's face lights up when we're visited by a dog, or the neighbour's cat. Are pat dogs allowed where you are?

    I"ve known old people get comfort from stroking toy dogs or cats, and when I delivered Meals on Wheels there was one lady who put out food and water every day for her toy cat!
  10. Kira

    Kira Registered User

    Dec 31, 2015
    @Rageddy Anne: Yes, dogs are allowed, but it must be a therapy dog. Unfortunately, at the moment we do not have a dog.


    I work with Alzheimer's patients since 2009 and I've done all these wonderful suggestions here. I agree, the most important is just to be there and to give the residents a good feeling.

    I think it's just unfair that so little is done for our work. On the one side we should give the best. On the other side, we want it really, but we don´t have the possibility.

    For other things so much money is spent. Only for care for the elderly is almost nothing left. This is actually very sad.

    So, tomorrow I go to my job again. And I´ll to give my best, like every day.

    Have a good week ! :)
  11. Onlyme

    Onlyme Registered User

    Apr 5, 2010
    In Mum's home they would give hand massage to those that couldn't communicate; it was a way of human contact.

    For those that didn't want to take part then they would have a manicure with nail varnish.

    There were some nice picture books of the forties, fifties, sixties etc around and they made a memory room full of 'vintage' stuff from those periods.
  12. Quilty

    Quilty Registered User

    Aug 28, 2014
    I think hand massage is a lovely idea. Its gentle but also very soothing.
  13. canary

    canary Registered User

    Feb 25, 2014
    South coast
    Kira, Im curious - what things do you see in cataloges that you would like to buy?
  14. Kira

    Kira Registered User

    Dec 31, 2015
    For example:

    - extra big puzzles

    - Picture/Memory cards for people with dementia

    - "Man, do not be angry“(Ludo) -Game in extra large

    - Books with special short stories or about the world of the 30s, 40s and 50s

    - Large Playing Cards

    - Games with variable design by interpretable maps, new questions for known types of puzzles like word puzzles collection and sayings.

    - Essential oils for aromatherapy treatment

    And interesting for me is "Paro", but is definitely too expensive. You can find it in Youtube: „PARO therapeutic robot“
  15. angelface

    angelface Registered User

    Oct 8, 2011
    Kira,is there a laminator in the office where you work?
    If so, you can make large size puzzles by cutting up magazine pictures and laminating them.
    Also memory cards in the same way?
    Maybe you could get cheap books from boot sales, with lots of pictures? My aunt used to enjoy gardening books with lots of pictures. Photos of young children, baby animals or landscapes/seascapes seem to do well too.
    Frustrating when you cant afford resources isnt it?
  16. canary

    canary Registered User

    Feb 25, 2014
    South coast
    It could be a good idea to check eBay periodically. A very quick search there is finding large playing cards for £1.99 and a puzzle suitable for people with dementia for £4.00.

    If you arent allowed to buy even at this price then try doing some fundraising activities.
    When you are an activities worker you have to think creatively.

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