Combatting Loneliness with Home Care Companionship Services
10 Top Tips for Engaging with Clients At Home
by Gillian Hesketh, MD Happy Days Dementia Workshop & Nostalgic Design.
Gillian Hesketh is MD of Happy Days Dementia Workshop & Nostalgic Design. Besides designing bespoke engagement prompts and nostalgic environments, she has spent much time in care homes and hospitals, with nurses and carers, sharing ways to help care teams enrich social care for well-being.
Loneliness can affect anyone in our communities. We’re recognising more than ever, that some elderly people may be experiencing too many lonely days. The Jo Cox Commission on Loneliness states ‘one in three people aged 75 and over say feelings of loneliness are out of their control.’ For elderly people who have developed a medical condition which may limit mobility, or who are living with dementia, loneliness can impact on their overall well- being.
It’s wonderful to see that many home-care companies are now providing companionship sessions for people in their own homes. To help carers enrich social care, Gillian Hesketh of Happy Days Dementia Workshop & Design has developed a range of life story response tools, traditional games with conversation prompts, and collated a collection of nostalgic games to encourage meaningful conversations and enhance everyday living.
For Home Care Service Providers, Gillian recommends that creating a collection of reminiscence materials, nostalgic games, large piece jigsaw puzzles, colouring cards and conversation prompts at your office or base can encourage carers to use the materials to engage with clients more easily and effectively. Most Happy Days resources are wipe clean for infection control. Engagement materials can bring about conversations, encourage activity, movement, maintain skills and uplift mood.
Here are Gillian’s Ten Top Pointers to help care providers engage with clients:
Work at eye level – Gain the person’s trust – Smile
Consider that you will be ‘a good friend’ to the person you are caring for.
Find out about the individual – get to know the person’s life story: interests, likes and dislikes too. Try Happy Days ‘My Personal Memory Jogger’ to add information, stories and photos to share and enjoy during future companionship sessions.
Make a list of current topics the person is interested in. Read newspaper or magazine articles, books or poems to or with the person.
Together, create a list of the person’s favourite hobbies and pastimes – ask for family input. What pastimes might the person enjoy now? Use this information to plan social activities for future sessions. [Games – Sewing – Television – Music – Playing a musical instrument – Gardening – Baking – Painting – Chatting – Jigsaw Puzzles – School Reunion internet sites].
Adjust activities and games to suit the person – Simplify rules – Limit the time span if necessary. Some people may just want to stack dominoes, buttons or jigsaw pieces. Activity doesn’t need to be complicated or competitive.
Engage in everyday tasks: Preparing fruit or vegetables – Dusting – Making up a planter. Tidy a cupboard, cd collection or fix boxed games together – Sorting can be therapeutic, calming and satisfying.
Look at the person’s photographs together. Create a mini photo album of ‘action’ photographs or add names to the back of the photos. ‘Doing something’ in a photograph may help a person with dementia to remember the event more easily than the image of a face only
Colouring can be rewarding and relaxing. It’s important to find scenes that the person would enjoy. Happy Days has designed Around the 1950s/60s Colouring Cards to prompt memories and help people reminisce.
Just talking is an activity. It’s not necessary to win games or complete tasks – the act of engaging is often enough to prompt meaningful conversations.
Reminiscing is a wonderful way to prompt memories and bring about stories to share. Create a personal memory box with the person you are caring for – or choose a themed Reminiscence Box from Happy Days Dementia Workshop. Themes include nostalgic artefacts and games, memorabilia, postcards and photographs. See online shop.
If the person tires, end the activity – Offer a drink and soothing conversation.
For more information, contact Gillian Hesketh – firstname.lastname@example.org or shop online at www.dementiaworkshop.co.uk
Home Care Companionship10 Tips© by Gillian Hesketh 24.02.2019