Saturday, 9 November 2013

Quick activities, no faffing around.

On Friday Phil and I revisited our project spaghetti maze visiting the Whitefield Dementia Cafe, Bury. We wanted to get fresh eyes on the Life Story boxes and note reactions to the work, before we launch it properly in a couple of weeks.

In addition we have been developing a new project that leads on from spaghetti Maze. Before we try and get funding for this new concept, we wanted to give it a go with a live audience, to see if it is relevant, useful, stimulating, understandable, clear and fun to use... I've been designing pages for an activity book, which will be aimed at older people including those with dementia to tell their life story through art and poetry. The book will encourage through activity, Grandparents to share their lives with their Grandchildren, and visa versa. The challenge for Phil and me is to step away from the activities, to just observe how people reacted to the pages.

The following notes give the responses to the work from our group of 9, including carers and people diagnosed with dementia.

home poem in progress.

'Doing a poem might be a step to far for my mum, but we've talked a lot... talked about being outside- and we've filled in the Hopscotch squares with memories of games. Past memories are there for my mum to a degree- she can't remember current memories. This book stimulates, but whether other people could get into the poem I don't know.' Pat and Bobby.

'I'd like to see amusements in the book- cinema and such' Bobby.

(Diane a volunteer helping Irene) It's really good, its making Irene think about her past, and I'm learning- finding out more about her. We're chatting a lot. We have found something that Irene really like to do- she has spent ages happily colouring in different pages, she's really absorbed. She's enjoyed the colouring in more than the writing.

I think its good, it's entertaining. It's good because it makes you think of the games that we played, games the grandchildren won't have heard of.
(Becky and Shirley)

a selection of the  pages.

family portrait drawing

 I've worked with people with dementia for years. I've seen all sorts of people coming in and trying different activities with them. You've got to hit the ground running, not make much fuss- then you're doing well. You need a simple cue, like that one there, not to much writing- I'm talking about dementia here. Quick activities, no faffing around, not to much explanation, its got to be quick to understand. It's got be happening in you're face. A bit of a challenge is good to, not patronising. Got to have a laugh, like on that page, you're talking about toilet roll. Some bits on the page are a bit small, its best when its simple and clear. There is definitely a place for this book in dementia care. Brian

adding a self portrait to the frame page.

adding a tug of war to the 'outside play' page.

In summary, the activity pages where really successful at sparking conversation, with short notes being written on the page. During our session there was a real buzz to the atmosphere, with lots of laughter. 

The daughter who said that her mum creating a poem was probably a step to far for her, I would suggest she had actually created one without realising it, when she filled in the Hopscotch template, creating a 'concrete poem.' I discovered how popular 'colouring in' is, with people of all ages- I have steered clear of this activity after witnessing years ago on an OT ward, older people working in children's colouring in books- it felt really patronising to me. However seeing an older person colouring in an age appropriate line drawing, drawn by another older person, obviously absorbed and delighted in the activity was a lovely.

Some of the pages where taken home to show family members, showing signs of real pride in their achievements. I found the morning really interesting and successful, it has reassured me and inspired me to take this idea further.

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