Lindsey Salhotra, Activities Coordinator at Milton Ernest Hall (Majesticare) recently won our winter edition of the Evidence of Outstanding Activities Competition. This is her home’s story.
The team at Milton Ernest reflected that residents were “withdrawing and not joining in in certain situations”, especially when they felt that they “couldn’t communicate”. This shared awareness was initially prompted via the observation of a resident who “was conscious of her speech and its deterioration and believed that people could not understand her or want to communicate with her”.
Lindsey notes, "Our home was a home which focused greatly on amazing activities [cinema screenings on the big screen, ghost trains, TARDIS paintings to name only a few!]…but sometimes we focused so much on the big events and huge tasks that the small 5 minutes spent all together or chatting one-on-one often wasn’t highlighted or mentioned…we wanted to embrace the small parts of our day as well as the big, and focus on the quiet and valuable times.”
Consequently, the team set their intentionality to design and deliver something new and different that would include and have a positive impact for these ‘at risk’ residents. They were inspired by the contents of the Snug N’ Cosy box and began by making a cosy corner. This was “a communal space but a cosy quiet one…a place where a small group of relatives could visit or when relatives were in the house they could sit. We used a fireplace to create a warm atmosphere; candles and the included rug finished this off…we put signs up so relatives and visitors knew that this space was for everyone and we left out a basket containing books, blankets and easy to do activities.”
Building on the availability of this cosy space and to embed its use and enjoyment, the team commenced a book club. “We set a date and made posters inviting everyone to a cosy morning by the fire. Residents were consulted about book choices…and we invited a resident’s daughter to read the book to everyone.”
This event was a roaring success. The resident who had been withdrawing "got involved and even made membership cards…it was great to see her out of her room and in the small cosy space [alongside other residents at risk of social isolation], where she seemed more comfortable, less intimidated and chatted one to one with other residents."
The Snug N’ Cosy theme also inspired further activities and events within the home: staff and residents “tried their hand at slipper making, decorating and enjoying the smell of gingerbread men, pampering ourselves with hand massages and also our Hygge day which included adopting a teddy bear!"
But no influence was as great as the one the comprehensive use of the box was to have on the tea round. “We started our very own hot chocolate bar…we ran it like a help yourself café… and we used it as a big conversation starter. It drew people out of their rooms to investigate and it led to residents, staff, relatives and more all sitting and chatting and laughing about the sickly combinations they could come up with! There was not a single drop left by the end of the morning and some individuals who often leave their drinks half-full were found to have drunk 2 full cups.”
Subsequent actions undertaken by Lindsey and the team aim to further embed the positive changes resulting from the book club and the hot chocolate bar to result in ambitious, lasting effects. “We are considering incorporating [the hot chocolate bar] into our regular fortnightly breakfast club and using [it] as a drop in event, also.” And, along with contacting local speakers and authors, to see whether they can host a book signing or a talk about a local book, there is now a “board in the hallway where all those passing can jot down their favourite book for us to discuss at future meet ups.” They have also arranged for a group of local historians to visit the home in February, where they hope to inspire the use of stories from the home’s history within the historians’ next local book.
So well done to Lindsey and the team for their deserved victory; for their inspiring and comprehensive use of the Snug n Cosy box; for the considered and detailed entry, which demonstrated intentionality in design, thoughtful and creative planning, considered delivery of new ideas, impact with residents, family, the home community and a resident at risk of isolation; and your actions taken to embed positive change!
As Lindsey describes and her competition entry evidences: “The transformation in the home this month has been amazing.”