Create Joy and Festivity – for isolated people – during the Holidays
I teach a session with this title. In the next four articles I am going to break those holidays down and offer and apply a Creating Joy Framework I’ve had fun developing.
First, don’t plan! Isn’t that ironic. We get paid to plan but looking back I would suggest to anyone interested in doing it different, give the planning to the people who live there. This is what I should have done. They live there, I don’t. So, I recommend getting into the habit of creating an event called Planning Fall Festivities, or Planning October, or Planning New Year’s Eve/Day and 2023! Go by seasons or go by months and I recommend doing it all year long.
When we plan, we have a future self. Psychologist Judah Ronch, PhD teaches that we working and raising our families have a future self. However, most older people living in institutions do not. How sad would it be to not have a future self! We each know what is on the calendar for still today, for tomorrow, for the coming weekend and next, for our next vacation or we are in the process of … planning it. If the community (activity) calendar is the only calendar one has, that is not their calendar, that is not their life. So, even though you get paid to plan… don’t. Reverse your thinking. Consider getting into a natural process of planning events on the calendar now for future events and future months.
Think Normal Life
Bounce everything you do off of normal. Don’t let yourselves get institutionalized. Think of what people do in their homes normally as seasons and holidays come and go and do that. Apply that way of thinking. Invite all to do it with you. No more institutional group activities no one wants.
Use your time wisely
Start to fill the community calendar with normal life stuff. Planning Fall Festivities. Decorating for Fall. Planning Trick or Treating. Do not add more to what you already do. Instead trade it out with some other events, shake things up. See how it goes.
Give Homework/ask for a Wish List
Invite residents to think about desires, traditions, look up new ideas on Pinterest before each planning meeting. Involve them in the life of their home. Consider a Wish List of ways to commemorate each season/holiday/theme.
Family Fall Photo Shoot
Consider designing and planning together a Family Fall Photo Shoot just like many/most families do these days. Take your time. Again, place these events into the calendar instead of others, not in addition. Assign dates and times so all residents, team members and family members know ahead of time. Gives them something to talk about and … plan!
Get residents, families, team members thinking about the best fall backdrop. The more you get involved, the more resources you learn you have access to.
Gift Giving/Card Sending
Every occasion differs. Is this an occasion for gifts? Or cards? Or both? Help residents send cards to family and friends. And don’t stop there. Give the idea to give cards to staff team members and other residents. Perhaps Halloween at this time if residents desire.
A variety of Card Making/Choices
Consider giving options to residents; blank cards for some who may love making their own; perhaps some residents make cards that others can have; then also having boxed cards. Lots of choices is very meaningful for isolated institutionalized people.
Only Elegant Crafts good enough for Décor
No more chincie, cheep crafts. Only put your time and money into crafts that people want, décor you would display in your home. If residents make something and refuse to give it up, you’ve achieved this level of elegance.
Would you want seasonal décor in your half a room?
I would. Remember with residents and gain even give homework of ideas that could be followed from the traditional cornucopia to pinecones to battery candles to pumpkins and gourds. Meaningful décor pieces one could have and to hold. Help people, especially those with the short attention span due to dementia, to have meaningful artifacts to engage with on their own in their room.
Plants and Flowers
Tis the season of sunflowers and mums. Suggest them as gifts.
Seasonal napkins and plates add so much.
Seasonal Foods and Treats
Inquire to residents’ favorite candies, baked goods, warm beverage desires. Pumpkin spice Chai teas and coffees could be so much fun. Let the one item be the thing. Introduce people to what may be new-to-them tasty treats. Break it down, take it slow, talk about desserts then candies then baked goods then meal items, then beverages both hot and cold. Perhaps have fun with the goofy scary food items associates sometimes with Halloween. Bobbing for apples anyone?
Music of the Season
Is there music for or of the season? Ask people’s ideas. Also, a music box for the varying season may be very engaging and meaningful to some. Be proactive about music – the benefits are many.
Little lights are so special during the holidays, for sure Christmas we’ll talk about that again, but maybe consider the various fall color lights in each window and lights all around the property.
Halloween/Trick or Treating
I didn’t commit a lot of space to these traditions since most never forget them! Haunted House anyone? Ask people’s interest. If you don’t have the kids come for trick or treat, highly recommend such an easy way to get the generations together and again if there is interest. Just consider planning with, setting time aside for the planning, give the planning its own time and space and hang tight, next article we’ll delve into details of Thanksgiving…
Would also love to hear your ideas. Happy Fall. Try to slow yourself and enjoy.
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 a free sample video on this topic at www.patreon.com/educatering, email@example.com 303-981-7228 www.edu-catering.com The Culture Change Minute for free www.facebook.com/Edu-catering