Working with the elderly
The Adlerian Society has been awarded grant funding by the Sobell Foundation towards a pilot visitor project in elderly care homes.
The National Association for Providers of Activities for Older People (NAPA) has found that homes which enable residents to participate in relevant and ‘pro-active’ activities help to create savings in the costs of care and medicines, improve appetite, reduce depression, dependency and the risk of falls, increase resilience and the ability to cope and diminish the effects of dementia and foster good community relations. Purposeful activity is important for all residents and particularly for those people living with dementia as well as being a measure for care homes to be able to achieve the dementia quality standard for social care set by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE).
Autobiographies could be a true reflection of the person and their life story and add context and achievement to their repertoire of memories. The basis of the Welcome Visitor project would therefore be what is generally known as ‘reminiscence’.
- Our project is a one year pilot project and start work with the two homes one in Ceredigion and one in Pembrokeshire
- Reminiscing with another person can be therapeutic because the process of sharing positive memories helps individuals achieve a sense of integrity and self-worth as well as: promoting self-understanding; preserving personal and collective history; transcending the material world and physical limitations; allowing for identification of universal themes of humanity; reinforcing coping mechanisms.
- Reminiscing can also be a successful group activity and a means of including previously isolated residents into the collective. Reminiscence helps individuals sum up their life and put the various pieces in order. Through this process peace can be achieved. Generally, the qualities which form the essential ‘skill set’ for good reminiscence work are partly the same which apply to counselling. They are –
- being attentive to what each speaker is saying, showing that you are ‘there’ for them
- not rushing to prompt or question, having a genuine desire to know more and to learn (in this case, from older people)
- sensitivity to the feelings which the speaker is revealing especially where a painful memory may have been triggered
- being non-judgmental, showing that you have heard and understood what they said
- being able to recall what has been said, refer back to it, in order to make the person remembering feel it is worthwhile talking to you, and so you can make links between different stories
- be adaptable and willing to change plans quickly and ‘go with’ the interests and needs expressed by the person, or the group