Welcome to the fifth of my seven blog posts for UK Dementia Awareness Week 2015.
This year’s Dementia Awareness Week centres around the theme of doing something new for people with dementia, under the mantra that ‘Life doesn’t have to end when dementia begins’. For many people living with dementia in care homes, however, a lack of opportunities to have meaningful occupation and activity, or even just enjoy the simple pleasures that many of us take for granted, can lead to life feeling like it really has ended.
Over this Dementia Awareness Week (DAW2015) I want to look at some of the positive things relatives and staff can do to enhance the lived experience of people with dementia in care homes. They may be new things, or they may be old favourites, but they all share in the ability to turn a boring day into something a little bit more special.
Day 5: Entertainment
Following on from yesterday’s blog post on learning and education in care homes, I wanted to pick up the specific themes around entertainment and expand on those. So much of ‘entertainment’ in care homes is a blaring TV (or many blaring TV’s), often with people sat in front of them who honestly look like they would rather be anywhere else than in that chair watching daytime TV.
Yet entertainment can be so much more than the bog-standard. Box sets of favourite films can recreate a movie theatre experience, book clubs and storytelling can enliven the creative juices, drama and theatre groups (either external local groups or a group made up of residents, relatives, friends and staff) can bring stories to life, visiting instrumentalists can provide evocative memories of learning to play an instrument, big sporting events can join people with different allegiances together in friendly banter, board games and other traditional forms of entertainment can be wonderful for reminiscence, and a visiting choir, or indeed a choir made up of people who live and work at a care home, can not only make beautiful music but help to form bonds and friendships over music. Some care homes have even successfully integrated video game consoles into the options they offer their residents.
If you are going to invite people into your care home to provide entertainment, first of all find out if they are offering something that no one else you know does (there will be lots of untapped talent amongst residents, relatives and staff!), and secondly think broadly. Singers of different genres (not just an Elvis impersonator), circus entertainers, dog show demonstrators, the list is a long one, and don’t forget to make enquires amongst different cultural leaders in your community – the UK is very diverse and there are some fantastic forms of entertainment specific to different cultures that you would otherwise need to travel to far away lands to experience.
And remember, the only limit to doing something new with entertainment is your imagination.
More information, tips and advice on entertainment can be found in the following D4Dementia blog posts:
Next post on 22 May 2015.