Top tips and simple exercises you can use with the Daily Sparkle to promote conversation in a group or one-to-one setting…
With thanks to Berkshire Healthcare
The Daily Sparkle is a resource which has been designed to stimulate conversation when talking with a person who has dementia. It may be that the person gets frustrated when asked to recall recent information, such as what they had for breakfast two hours ago, but, with prompting, they may be able to talk with confidence about their childhood and middle years.
Each edition of the Daily Sparkle comes in the same format: with four reminiscence articles, a quiz or puzzle to encourage thinking skills and problem-solving, and a well-known song. You will find some carer’s notes on the back of each edition. This provides background information and questions relating to each of the articles.
We recognise that every person with dementia has their own level of understanding and communicating. A person with dementia might find it difficult to hold a two-way conversation. They may also have problems understanding when talking is too fast or when sentences are too long or too complicated. Reading may also be difficult if there are too many big words or if there is too much writing on the page. Many will be unable to read the Daily Sparkle independently.
The tips provided here will help you to use your Daily Sparkle more effectively; helping both you and the person you are sharing it with to have an enjoyable and satisfying session.
Don’t aim to cover each Daily Sparkle in one go. Think about how long a person can concentrate for and break it down into bite-sized chunks.
Decide how much time you want to spend on your session. Most people find that 45 minutes to an hour is about right. You may want to print off a copy of each Daily Sparkle.
- Have a little chat about what day and time it is. Think about where this information can be found – on a watch, on a clock, on a newspaper or calendar.
- Is there anything special about today? (A birthday or anniversary, Pancake Day, Halloween etc)
- How are you feeling? Is it a good day? (Tell me about it)
- Try a little warm-up exercise to get the words flowing. Pick a topic, for example: animals. How many animal names can you think of? Imagine walking around a zoo; through the forest; around a farm. What animals can you see? Provide prompts or clues to help (these may be descriptions, the first sound of a word, one or two letters written down, a gesture, an animal noise etc). Write these down as you go, to keep track of what has been said already.
- Look at one or two written articles from your Daily Sparkle. Some people like to read these out loud. Others like to read quietly to themselves. Talk about them afterwards. If there are too many words on the page, it may help to cover up the second article to avoid distraction.
- It may help to highlight the most important words in an article eg General Election, Labour, Harold Wilson etc. The Carer’s Notes are only there as a guide and you may need to simplify some of the questions. If the content is too difficult, try talking about any personal memories triggered by the article.
- Quizzes vary by type and topic. You may need to adapt the way you use them (or miss them out altogether) if the person you are sharing with has difficulty reading. The Daily Sparkle aims to be challenging but enjoyable. If an activity causes frustration, then stop and move on to another activity.
- Finishing your session with a song is a relaxed and fun way to end. It can help to print out the words in advance. You may want to play the song on your phone or computer to help things along a bit!
Some people like to keep a diary. It is a nice idea to include a list of the activities and songs, so that you can look back and do a quick re-cap at the start of your next session.
Next week, general tips for making conversation more relaxed and enjoyable.