Thursday, 24 May 2012

Musical Tuesdays

As you might know, we've got a wonderful volunteer programme running in Riverlodge 3 (our Alzheimer's and Dementia section).  We have between 4 to 5 volunteers who come every morning of the week (different volunteers for each day) and help us with the stimulation groups with our residents living with Alzheimer's or Dementia.

The Tuesday volunteers recently decided that Tuesdays will now become musical mornings. Music really has a significant affect on elderly residents, whether they have Alzheimer's or not.  When I started working here almost 2 years ago, I was immediately introduced to the magic of Andre Rieu.  

One resident came to me after a movie that they did not enjoy as much as I was hoping they would and said:  "We once had a show of the most wonderful man with a violin.  We've never experienced such beauty, such wonder before.  You need to get that man for us."  

I was a little amused by her words, but I did ask around a bit and found out that she was talking about an Andre Rieu show they'd watched before.  I borrowed one of his shows from one of our other residents and put it on one Friday morning.  I had never been thanked so much in my life before.  The responses were overwhelming.  This is real therapy in a DVD case if  you are looking for a quick fix :)  

To get back to the Tuesday volunteers.  They have decided they want to simulate an Andre Rieu concert with our residents in Riverlodge 3.  They brought his CD and lots of musical instruments - from shakers to drums to bells - anything that can make a musical sound.  

They put on the CD and the concert was on.  It was a wonderful morning filled with laughter, music and movement.  The volunteers even blew up a lot of balloons so that they could throw them in the air at the end, something that apparently happens in the Andre Rieu concerts.  We had our own maestro morning and it was a blast.  

Here are some of the photos:

Caregivers joined in with the residents to make some music. 
Elsa Hofer and Hilda Holgate enjoying their morning. 

Volunteer Cathy Potgieter assisting Sheila Price to use the musical shaker.

Shirley Chambers enjoyed the music a lot and was moving and shaking along.  She also wanted to make Sara (as she calls the doll that we use for doll therapy) dance.  

Volunteer Liz Botsis blowing up the balloons for later in the show.

 Antonetti Ginesia enjoying the music.  

The balloons really were the perfect ending to a wonderful morning.  

I'm looking forward to many more musical mornings from these lovely volunteers.  


Recently in OT a few of our regular residents worked as a team to make wonderful muffins for tea time.

Baking is an amazingly therapeutic activity.  In the elderly it is associated with a lot of memories.  All of us has some memories of baking or cooking or being part of a baking activity or just tasting or smelling the baking goods.  If you are young and only bake every now and then, it can bring back memories from your grandmother's kitchen and the memories you made together or for most of the residents in our care centre, it can bring back memories from their own baking experiences in their kitchens.

It's also very therapeutic in the sense that it is very stimulating and involves most of your senses.  Combine it with some music in the background and there is not a sense that isn't involved.  Most of the time when we do baking, the ingredients get eaten up before the actual baking even happens, but we always end up with a nice end-product that they can have with their tea or coffee later.

Today's baking was run my one OTT, Dinah, and they made meaty muffins for tea time.

 June Lane mixing the ingredients.

Lorna Smith preparing the muffin pans.

Dinah the OTT assisting Cecily Ryder to read the recipe.

And the end product :)

Here is the recipe:

Meaty Muffins:

  • 200g mincemeat
  • salt and pepper
  • oil for frying
  • 500ml (2 cups) cake flour
  • 10ml (2 teaspoons) baking powder
  • 5ml (1 teaspoon) salt
  • 250ml (1 cup) cheese, grated
  • 2 eggs 
  • 250ml (1cup) milk
  • 20ml (4 teaspoons) oil

Preheat the oven to 180°C 
Spray two muffin pans with non-stick spray 
Season the mince with salt and pepper
Heat the oil and fry the mince until cooked 
Sift the flour, baking powder and salt together in a mixing bowl
Add the cheese and mix well
Beat the eggs, milk and oil together and add to the flour mixture, stirring until just mixed
Fill the muffin pan hollows halfway with half the muffin mixture
Spoon a little mince on top, followed by the remaining muffins mixture
Bake for 20 minutes until well risen and brown
Makes 24 muffins


We always enjoy having the Occupational Therapy students from the University of the Witwatersrand. At the moment we've got 5 third-year students doing their practical blocks here at our care centre.  All the residents enjoy having these young ladies around and a few residents then enjoy the individual attention and treatment they get for the 3 weeks.

We look forward to having them again later in the year.

The 5 OT students hard at work in our boardroom.

OT student Janice Cowley with resident Antoinette (Tony) King

Staff Support Groups

In February we started staff support groups for our caregivers.  The idea was to give them an opportunity to share feelings and experiences and to feel supported and be a support to each other.

In February they got to know each other a little better and explored whether they have similar problems in their work environment with which they can either help each other or get more information on the topic presented to them in the next group.

In the second groups, they learnt a bit more on Alzheimer's and Dementia. Sometimes it is very difficult to understand the behaviour of a person living with Alzheimer's and Dementia and to have a bit more knowledge on the subject already makes a big difference.  They brainstormed on how to deal with different difficult situations at work and I shared some tips and ideas about handling different situations.

This month they are making collages about themselves.  They are focusing on things that they like and/enjoy and things that they are good at (not specifically at work).  So far it is a really wonderful experience working with the different caregivers and learning new and interesting things about them.  The idea behind the collage is to realise that they have so much more to offer than just nursing care and that they must not leave their personalities at home, but bring them to work.  If they are good at singing, they can sing to a lonely resident in their room.  If they are good at solving puzzles they can sit with a resident and do crossword puzzles or word searches.  They can challenge them to some new activities, like kicking a ball in the lounge for some exercise if they know they enjoy soccer in their free time.  The improvement in care will soon show once the caregivers bring a bit of liveliness and spontaneity, joined with nursing care.

Here are pictures of one of the support groups:

Caregivers Winnie, Dipuoa and Dora working hard on their collage.

Dora talking about the things she is good at.  

Winnie talking about the things that she likes.  


I always thought I knew how to blow kisses to someone, but the other day during Charades I was taught how to do it in a different way :)

John Lee entertaining us with his version of "Blowing Kisses".

Person Centred Care

We have done training for the past two weeks in Person-centred Care.  The training was presented by Sylvia Birkhead (well known OT, specialising in geriatrics, who gives a lot of input in our work here at the Ron Smith Care Centre).

Here is some information about Person-centred Care (from Sylvia Birkhead's presentation):

What is Person-centred Care:

  • Viewing the resident by entering their world and seeing the situation through their eyes
  • Taking the resident and his/her problems, ideas and expectations seriously
  • Recognition, respect and trust.
A lot of times when we see a resident, we just look at certain things. The things that stand out for us because of our culture, background, education, prejudices and beliefs.  We need to look at the resident in a different way.  We need to enter their world.  We need to treat them as the individuals that they are.

When we look at this picture, we might think:  "Funny looking lady that is smoking a cigar which really isn't good for her health and well-being."  We might also think: "Somebody needs to assist her with dressing, because those colours really don't go well together."

If we look at the person without prejudices we might find ourself thinking, she looks very happy and content.  That cigar probably made her day.  She might dress colourful to brighten her days.

*Photo source

Person-centred Care has 7 dimensions:

  • Respect for resident's values, preferences and needs
  • Coordination and integration of care
  • Information, communication and education
  • Physical comfort
  • Emotional support and alleviation of fear and anxiety
  • Involvement of family and friends
  • Transition and continuity.

Sisters and caregivers from different wards getting ready for their Person-centred Care training.  

Principles of Person-centred Care:
  • Resident autonomy and control
  • Local decision-making
  • Increased participation
  • Greater individualisation
  • Meaningful relationships
  • Respect for abilities
  • Attention to built environment.

Residents need to feel like they still have the ability to make decisions.  This means that if they feel that today they do not want to get out of their bed and sleep in or even have breakfast at home, they must be able to do it.  Do we have that option at home (possibly on a Saturday)?  Yes we do.  

It is very important that families are on board and understand the meaning of Person-centred Care.  Otherwise they might find their mother/father still in bed at 08h00 or 09h00 and think that it is because of the caregivers not doing their jobs.  

We also need to realise that even though residents might be old and that their abilities are so limited, it doesn't mean that they should stop dreaming or living out their individuality.  If you look at the picture above you will see two elderly women sitting in the wheelchairs in the sea.  Your first thoughts might be:  "That is dangerous and risky.  What if they fall out of the wheelchair?  The wheelchairs are going to rust."  We do not realise what that moment in the sea will mean to them for the rest of their lives.  We need to look at risks ,of course.  But we need to establish whether the benefit and enjoyment of doing something can outweigh the risks of some activities.  

The big question in Person-centred Care is:  "DOES IT MATTER?"  

Does it matter that my mother is wearing her top the wrong way around or does it matter that she felt the enjoyment and sense of achievement of dressing herself?

Person-centred Care is also not just applicable to our residents.  How well do you know your fellow staff members?  How well do you know the caregivers working with your family member?  Do you see them as individuals or do you just see them as someone with a nursing care job to do?

Sylvia's training also focused on getting to know the other people that joined you in the training sessions through an adapted Bingo game she did at the beginning of each session.  She put emphasis on the importance of getting to know the people you work with.  Their likes and dislikes, interesting facts like how long they've worked for Rand Aid or whether they are singing in the choir in their free time. 

Here are some of the photos of the Bingo getting-to-know-each-other Game.

Let's work together to see residents as individuals and to give them as many opportunities as possible to be the person they want to be...

It is the small acts of kindness that so greatly change the world...

Mother's Day Tea

On Friday (the 11th  of May) we had a Mother's Day tea for our residents in their lounges. As we couldn't get entertainment for each and every ward, we got the staff to contribute. The caregivers sang a few songs in Setswana and did a bit of dancing for the residents. This was thoroughly enjoyed by the residents and a special treat for Mother's Day.

Here are some of the photos:

The caregivers from Riverlodge 3.

The caregivers from Lakeside.

Always remember that your family member's caregiver are more than just a nurse.  They are interesting, unique people with wonderful skills. Value them for that...

Fun in OT

On Monday afternoon, we had a wonderful time in OT.  We played a dice game, which entails throwing the dice and then having to do what the number that you've thrown says on a poster.  One of the numbers says, "Pull a funny face".

Can you beat some of these faces?

 Roy Gilham.

 Lorna Smith.

And my personal favourite:  Anna Marks

Friday, 4 May 2012

I'm forever blowing bubbles

On Monday a little girl named Jennifer visited us in OT.

One of the Eden Alternative Principles states the following:

"An Elder-centred community imbues daily life with variety and spontaneity by creating an environment in which unexpected and unpredictable interactions and happenings can take place. This is the antidote to boredom." (Eden Alternative)

She was just exploring in our department, when she discovered a bottle of bubbles.  She immediately opened it and started blowing bubbles for the older ladies and men visiting the department.  Their reactions were wonderful.  They tried to catch the bubbles or blow them away or just looked at them in amazement. It was an unexpected surprise which blew them away (no pun intended :) ).  Here are some of the photos.

Jennifer Pretorius blowing bubbles up in the air.

Mrs Lily Maisel enjoying the young company.

John Lee trying to catch some bubbles.

Mrs Anna Marks seeing how many bubbles she could catch.

They really enjoyed the morning and started singing:  "I'm forever blowing bubbles"

I'm forever blowing bubbles,
Pretty bubbles in the air,
They fly so high,
Nearly reach the sky,
Then like my dreams,
They fade and die.
Fortune's always hiding,
I've looked everywhere,
I'm forever blowing bubbles,
Pretty bubbles in the air.