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Why do many Carers record negatives not positives? This question was asked recently on a NAPA training day by a

HappydaysBy Gillian Hesketh MA

MD Happy Days Dementia Workshop & Nostalgic Design

Designers spend weeks, months, even years researching safe environments, product durability, audience potential usage and much more. Founder and designer, Gillian Hesketh of Happy Days Dementia Workshop & Nostalgic Design has visited hundreds of residential and dementia care homes and care services over the past nine years, encouraging enrichment of social care not only through training and reminiscence materials, but by designing meaningful wall art collections and interactive displays to complement the home, the residents needs and their interests. She has developed many simple and cost effective solutions to enliven everyday residential living environments, uplift mood and help carers enrich social care for well-being. Proud to be supplying materials nationally and internationally, she has created a list of do’s and don’ts for residential care and dementia homes, hospitals, rehabilitation settings, dementia cafes, care teams and families to share.

Try it yourself with Gillian’s Ten Happy Days Tips:

1. Entrance Porch and Area:
Keep notices simple. Display emergency and important information together. Update information regularly and remove out of date information which may cause confusion. Visitors may have endured a long journey or rushed from work. Use clear images to attract interest and simplify understanding. Display activities for the week on a separate board to stimulate curiosity and provide clarity.

2. Social Areas
Furnish living and social areas with titles to help way finding. Add extra meaning by ensuring an image or colour is created within the name i.e: Garden Room – Reminiscence & Activity Corner – Meadows Lane – Bluebell Avenue – Coronation Street. Areas can be named to accentuate themes: Market Street [with shop window murals]. If you have a pub or cafe, name if after your local and add the local street name to the corridor.
3. Smaller Areas & Awkward Corners
Is the best outcome being made of unused spaces? Brighten up dark corners with a sixties patterned wallpaper, nostalgic displays or themed wall art. Try a Happy Days activity tool board, or create a music, gardening, craft or sewing theme.

4. Vistors
Encourage visitors to engage with residents. Often, relatives and friends are at loss of things to say or do when visiting their loved one. Let visitors know you have a range of nostalgic games, jigsaws and memory boxes to share with residents. Create an activity corner for visitors to feel at ease when selecting items to share with their family member or friend.

5. Games & Activities
Repair damaged boxes. People are used to the everyday task of fixing and sorting things – ask residents to engage in the project of fixing boxes or tidying creative areas. [Make this into a weekly activity]. Re-organise activity storage cupboards – you never know what you’ll find at the back of the shelf.

6. All Around
Remove shabby or jaded flower displays.
Clear tattered books from bookshelves.
Sort out your CD collection – Less is more – Too many CDs takes up time when searching for music. Ask residents for their favourites. Sort into music styles.

7. Fresh Flowers
There’s nothing better than a vase of fresh flowers to please the eye and prompt conversations. Have you got any daffodils or summer flowers in the garden? Flowers can be simple and don’t need to be expensive. Move the vase to different locations throughout the week. Ensure dying flowers are removed immediately.

8. Wall Art – Displays – Murals
Imagine seeing wall art through the eyes of your residents. Are the pictures too high for residents to see? If so, re-locate pictures to a lower position. Take down faded pictures or tiny pictures which are difficult to see. Remove black pictures with small images – These can sometimes give the effect of shadows or even holes for people living with dementia.
There’s no doubt about it, nostalgic or themed displays can get tongues wagging. Consider the content in terms of residents’ interests; stimulating content, extended meaning which could relate to the location in the home: Sun Lounge – Hair Salon – Reminiscence Corner – Gents Leisure Room. Avoid blank colours, spots and stripes which by their nature, cannot prompt memories. Wall art can aid way finding too. Images of food often encourages eating and helps direct residents towards dining areas. Check out the extensive range of Happy Days nostalgic wall art online at www.dementiaworkshop.co.uk

9. Outdoor Areas
If windows look out onto a garden area, add bird, squirrel or rabbit garden ornaments and/or a bird table. Ask a local joiner to make a bird table. Many people take great enjoyment from watching or feeding the birds. Engage interested residents. Face chairs towards the garden view and watch the smiles.

10. Balance noise levels.
During visits, I often notice both a radio and a television are switched on in the same room, which causes sound confusion. Let residents know when you are going to use loud appliances. Be respectful – Don’t call out to colleagues when vacuuming or doing tasks – unless it’s for safety purposes.

If you think and feel well, this will reflect onto the person or people you are caring for.
Shop for reminiscence and decorative materials – Themed Rooms – Nostalgic Displays – Murals and more at www.dementiaworkshop.co.uk


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