At the dementia care home where I worked we had a large echoey, quite empty dining room. We were always trying to think of ways to make it more friendly and interesting for the residents. People with dementia often suffer from boredom, but flounder in any activities that would usually satisfy it due to their memory loss, side effects of medication, etc.
We had a menu board in the living room, updated daily, that a resident would often read to me (repeatedly) “oh look, it says Shepherds Pie” three minutes later… “Do you like Shepherds Pie? its on the menu today”. Anyway, that kept her occupied in a way.
We also felt that residents need as many clues as possible as they navigate the home as to what they are doing there. So if you are in a calm, peaceful, quiet living area, you might feel calm and relaxed. If you are sitting at a dining table with some familiar faces, with knives and forks in front of you and a menu board on the wall and someone brings you lunch, you would feel confident “Here I am, in some kind of cafe, eating lunch with my friends”
Down the other end of the dining room we are planning a bar/pub area. Surprisingly (to me) this has needed a lot of explanation and justification to both higher management and staff. A pub is, for many people, a happy and familiar place. In the fight against institutionalism and for personalisation, why wouldn’t you include a pub in the very confined setting that is to our residents, their whole world. We would love to regularly take our residents to the local pub for outings but in reality, friends and family rarely want to help, and we can’t afford the staff we’d need to accompany the residents. So the best option seemed to build a little pub area where we can perch at the bar, do a pub quiz, pub singalong, play velcro darts, and have a bit of banter and chat etc. Anyway, unfortunately I have now left this job to live in Japan, but I hope they will continue to try and get the pub installed!
I am an artist, illustrator, weaver and workshop facilitator currently living and working in London, UK.
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