In this article we are keeping in line with the goal to give back normal life to people who live in nursing homes and assisted livings. Don’t let yourselves get institutionalized. We are also applying a framework I’ve designed called Creating Joy with a focus on the people doing the planning and again, back to normal, what you and I do annually.
This is another reminder and encouragement to not do all the planning. Seriously. Give it back to the people who live there. Have fun. Try different ways. Try Planning February on the calendar instead of activity calendar planning. New words and ways draw people.
Have planning events for January if you haven’t already. Plan New Years. Maybe ask residents what their Wish List is for the New Year. Give homework to come to gatherings with ideas.
Beyond the month of January, offer a planning event to create an overarching calendar for the entire year.
Host a New Year’s Resolutions or Goals event, see who comes. Invite residents to talk about this, what resolutions do they want to set? Or do they rather have goals? Personally, I lean toward the language of goals. I am very goal oriented and love to shoot for goals. The term resolution sometimes implies failure nowadays, I think, but that’s just me. Maybe someone else loves the term resolution, you could talk about words. You could look up meanings. The idea of being resolute can be invigorating. Short term goals, long term goals, a goal for the year. Goals for individuals but then how about goals as a group of people who live and work together? Or goals for the neighborhood (avoiding the institutional word unit/station/hallway/ward) or entire home (avoiding the institutional word facility)? Maybe someone likes to think in terms of baby steps, maybe someone else objectives.
Psychologists talk about how we each have one, however. Most people living in institutions do not. What an opportunity to help them have a future self.
If your activity calendar is the only calendar a person has, that is not their calendar. What a wonderful gift you could be a part of to ensure each person gets their own calendar. Start with the person – can the person buy their own? It’s okay to ask about money, sometimes people like to and sometimes need to spend their money. Could family/friends find the right one? Could donations be sought, or money for calendars? Don’t let a group just buy the same calendar or random themes, better yet, guide them to themes chosen by those who live in your home and for those who can’t tell you, then you suggest. And lastly if there are a few people who could use your help, now you go to your community’s budget help.
Using the Calendar
Encourage and help those who need help to use their calendars. Perhaps get people thinking about their future self. A whole month of focusing on the New Year could help. I suggest not asking “What do you want to do?” We over-ask that I think. Consider asking different questions, they tend to bring about different answers, and different ideas which can be refreshing to the person and to us.
Perhaps some would like to send New Year’s cards.
Perhaps some would like to send special legacy letters to special people in their lives, a new year provides a marking point for special gifts like this. Or lessons learned from my life, etc.
If you haven’t done a photo shoot during the fall or during Christmas, you could do one for New Years! Have fun, take your time, create a schedule for each person’s Glamour Shot type event. This too gives a future self, something to look forward to.
Word of the Year
Speaking of finding the right word, have you ever brought this idea and practice to those who live where you work? Another beautiful, normal, not institutional practice. You could help people design a beautiful sign or way of depicting their word, elegant décor, not “chincy” cheap but something to be proud to display.
New Year’s Seasonal Décor, Food and Treats
Maybe talk about it, what depicts New Years to you?
Again have fun finding the music and songs and lyrics that depict the new year.
Maybe there could be a community-wide focus encouraging everyone to get organized. Go through the drawers, the closet, clean and clean out. Always a good thing for each of us. A picture of starting new…. also profound coming out of hard times together…
A New Year
Recognizing there may be sadness and reasons for people to talk, express, cry and grieve in order to also clean out emotionally if possible. A fresh start. May God bless each of you in this new year.
Carmen Bowman, MHS, Regulator turned Educator of Edu-Catering: Catering Education for Compliance and Culture Change, seeks to inspire everyone to chip away at institutional culture by laying a strong foundation of knowing regulatory requirements – blending innovation with regulation. Activity consulting, personalized continuing education and live instruction also available. “Cutting edge-ucation” nominal pay-per-view training and free sample videos at www.patreon.com/educatering, firstname.lastname@example.org 303-981-7228 www.edu-catering.com The Culture Change Minute for free www.facebook.com/Edu-catering