Our month started off with a bang with 4 outings organised in the space of just 2 weeks. We’d had a meeting with an organiser from Eastside Arts and decided to support their ‘Eastside Arts Festival 2019’ by bringing groups of residents to some of their planned events. Our first trip was to the Harland and Wolff Staff Club for ‘Soda Popz’ which was a delightful duo singing 50’s and 60’s hits. A few days later we attended ‘Play it Again Jam’ which was held in Strand Presbyterian Church. This was a dementia friendly gig featuring Belfast Swing, poetry readings and one of our personal favourites, Belfast Ukuele Jam. Our next trip was nearby at Tullycarnet Library; ‘Tales and Tunes’ by Liz Weir. This was a relaxing afternoon of ‘yarn spinning’ with a variety of storytellers and musicians. Finally, our last trip was to Knocknagoney Community Centre, swaying away our afternoon at a Tea Dance with entertainment from ‘The Swing Girls’. It was great to become involved with Eastside Arts and we look forward to becoming more involved with them in the future.
In-between the excitement of the outings, we also had ‘Settled Petals’ come to Towell House for some Inter-generational Baby Yoga, what a morning! 10 Mothers with their babies arrived with all their yoga gear and had their session here in our main lounge. They spent around 30 minutes going around the lounge letting the residents engage and cuddle with their babies before taking up their positions on the yoga mats. This was then finished off with some tea, coffee and of course more cuddling! What a lovely way to spend a morning and we’ve already organised for Settled Petals to return to us in October.
Knowing the outings would create a bit of a buzz, we had planned a few relaxing activities for the residents. We held a Pamper Afternoon where we played relaxing music and provided manicures for the residents; just giving the ladies a little ‘pick me up’ with freshly painted nails and even some of the men availed of hand massages! We also organised an afternoon of ‘Mindful Art’, something we’ve done before and have noticed the benefit to the residents.
This is all about enjoying being in the present, encouraging the residents to focus on one thing and to relax; it has been proven to reduce symptoms of stress, anxiety and depression.
Of course, we had our run of normal activities throughout the month of August. I’m happy to see Bingo is still popular amongst the residents, although I’m not sure if they come for the game or the free chocolate! Moving & Grooving and Armchair yoga are still regulars on the planner, encouraging the residents to be mobile in the mornings; starting their day off with some light chair-based exercises and music. The residents are still enjoying Active Communities coming to us every Thursday morning providing physical exercise through target-based ball games.
We had a couple of reminiscence-based activities in August, the first one was ‘Where in the World have you been?’. Sarah and myself felt very privileged to hear so many of their travelling stories over the years and gaining an insight into their lives was just lovely. Our residents have certainly travelled the world and have gained wonderful memories that they still hold dear to their hearts and recall with a smile on their faces. With all this information we plan to create a world map for our notice board, focusing on the countries that our residents have been to. Our second reminiscence activity was ‘Baby Years’, this was a small but lively group; we shared and compared stories of childhood, motherhood and how things have progressed. Gillian Millar had brought in an old glass baby bottle which I took along, this helped to stimulate a lot of memories in the residents. We consider reminiscence to be very important, it allows us to be nostalgic about happy times in our lives. It is said that reminiscence for seniors gives them a sense of purpose, especially those living with dementia.
The residents are continuing watching the Netflix series ‘The Crown’ on Fridays which has gained a firm following, we’ll soon be starting season 2! One of our residents is particularly enjoying the reminiscence element to this series, it brings back a lot of memories, especially where he was during The Great Smog of London in 1952!
Philomena from Ballymena was back with us this month with her ‘Rhythm and Movement’ programme, entertaining the residents with music, song sheets and a quiz. The residents are always well engaged when she’s here and enjoy the energy she brings.
Not everything goes to plan sadly, we had planned an afternoon outside making some ‘campfire cones’, enjoying our last bit of sunshine. ‘Campfire cones’ are just wafer cones filled with all sorts of treats and melted gooeyness wrapped in tinfoil and set on the fire pit. However, firepits and campfire cones didn’t seem to be our speciality, they were a little more charred than we would have deemed ‘edible’- so strawberry mousses saved the day!
Although we had quite a busy month, the most popular afternoon was definitely ‘Barney’s Startrax Disco’ in the Main Lounge. This was an afternoon of music, movie clips and lots of visual stimulation on a projector screen, coupled with plenty of dancing and fantastic singing.