Aside from straightforward activities, there are a number of specific approaches you can try in your care home to help support the wellbeing and mental health of your residents. Here, we find out more…
Created with meaningful tasks and purposeful activity at its heart, the Montessori approach is one of the most innovative ways to offer truly person-centred care for people living with dementia. The focus is on meaningful activity and tasks that have a purpose – the kinds of activities that give people both a sense of accomplishment and reconnect them with a part of their personal history. A big focus is put on maintaining or learning new skills, which is done by the repetition of that skill, along with demonstrations from a carer. Focusing on activities that enable individuals to be as independent as possible is really important, as this develops people’s self-esteem and helps them to feel that they are making a meaningful contribution to their community.
Doll therapy can do a lot of good when used properly. Dolls can work on a basic comfort and distraction level, but also, for many residents, they provide a real sense of purpose and familiarity. The lifelike dolls, which cost between £150-250, weigh the same as a baby and also mimic their breathing, sleeping and gurgling. Residents can feed, change, rock and hold the baby and many become quite attached to it, often talking more to the baby and their relatives, as well as being more active and verbal.
If you have ever experienced the joy that a pet brings to people in care homes, you’ll know how special this is. Research says that pet therapy on a regular basis helps relieve stress, cope with mental health issues and encourage a sense of calm. It reduces anxiety, boredom and loneliness by providing companionship. You can invite dogs in for a visit, or have a session with a travelling petting zoo, which will bring in rabbits, guinea pigs, etc, for cuddles. You can even find organisations who will bring in horses for residents (horses are often used in therapy), or even reptiles and birds of prey.
A strong body helps to create a strong mind, plus it releases endorphins and makes us feel happy. Even for your residents, it can be a wonderful tonic. Set the room up with space in-between each chair so people can stretch out, and place yourself in the middle of the room so everyone can see you. Have music playing and plenty of natural light. Keep enthusiasm up by singing through the sessions, or even stopping for a breather and a bit of reminiscence.
COGNITIVE STIMULATION THERAPY (CST)
CST is a short therapeutic treatment for people with mild to moderate dementia, and is essentially engagement in a range of activities and discussions (usually in a group) that is aimed at general enhancement of cognitive and social functioning. When regular CST sessions are delivered sensitively they help to improve memory, levels of wellbeing, social confidence and self-esteem, and slow down cognitive decline.