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How Bethanie’s therapy team supports clients living with dementia

Individualised activity resource packs at Bethanie Elanora

At Bethanie Elanora, the occupational therapist and therapy assistants have created new resource packs for people living with dementia. These activity resources and guiding materials are used by all staff at Elanora to support meaningful activity for our clients who are living with dementia. The great thing about these packs is how flexible they are. They’re easily graded to meet each individual’s strengths and support needs, so that the activities provide an achievable challenge. Successfully completing these challenges gives our clients a sense of achievement, autonomy, and purpose, while refining cognitive, motor, sensory and social skills. What is meaningful is really individualised, so we use these resources to prompt connection and expression of self and identity.

Creating personalised space at Bethanie Peel

Bethanie Peel’s occupational therapist has created a pamphlet of advice on how to create personalised space for residents and/or family members of those living with dementia. Using practical tips on how to create a personalised space in the resident’s bedroom, the pamphlet steps out ways to create sense of belonging, security, familiarity and reassurance. Peel’s occupational therapist also assesses the fit between each resident and their environment, to maximise independence and wellbeing.

Five ways to have a good day at Bethanie Waters

Some people living with dementia need support to engage with the things they enjoy. In light of this, the occupational therapists at Bethanie Waters implemented “Have a great day” posters. Enjoyment is subjective, so it’s important for staff to know our clients’ tastes. However, it can be difficult for the person living with dementia to express what they like doing. Each client has a poster that lists up to five ways staff can help that person have a great day. The poster is displayed in the client’s room to prompt staff to small actions that make a big difference in that person’s day. The prompts are simple and easy: “put on my favourite CD”, or “help me to sit in the garden on a sunny day”, or “talk about my wedding photo”. These posters are a handy tool for staff to support people living with dementia to maintain social connections and express their identity.

Having a good day

Turning down the noise at Bethanie Waters

The environment has a big impact on the way all of us function, and for people living with dementia, the right environment can enable and empower. Occupational therapists at Bethanie Waters reviewed the layout of the dining rooms and lounge rooms, rearranging the physical space to promote meaningful engagement in daily activities, social interaction with others, and spaces to be alone or with others. We paid attention to the sensory environment, making sure there is the right amount of auditory stimulation – as noise that is too overwhelming or unhelpful can add to the cognitive burden for people living with dementia by making things more confusing or difficult to concentrate. Getting the right level of auditory stimulation helps improve independence, concentration, mood, reduces distress and anxiety.

More than pain management at Bethanie Waters

Some residents living with dementia attend our wellness centre to have their pain managed. Some of the more popular meaningful engagement strategies employed at the wellness centre include: the company of our therapy cats and dogs; physical activities like balloon tennis, ball games, gentle exercises; listening to their favourite music, aromatherapy; and reminiscing using pictures.

Garden therapy and Bethanie Fields

Bethanie’s therapy assistants use everyday activities in a meaningful way to improve the health and wellbeing of residents. A resident living with dementia wanted to go home one afternoon and began to experience anxiety as he searched for a familiar environment. The therapy assistant knew the person well and recognised he was anxious. Because she knew the individual person and his story, she knew that he loved gardening. The therapy assistant asked the gentleman to help her collect some vegetables from the garden for dinner, which they did and provided to the kitchen. This gave the person a sense of purpose and supported him to engage in something meaningful and familiar, which helped give him a sense of security. Being in the garden helped to relieve his anxiety, and they were able to connect socially and talk about his love of gardening.


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