Create Joy and Festivity – for isolated people – during the Holidays. This is a session I teach which I’m breaking down in four articles applying a Creating Joy Framework I’ve had fun developing.
First off, and shocking I know, don’t plan! Even though you get paid to plan, don’t do all the planning. This is something I would do differently from my day. Why? Because I don’t live there. This is a way to give life back to institutionalized people. Give them back the planning. Hold regular, every single month, planning meetings. Get them ingrained into your typical monthly calendar.
This is a way to give people control, something to think about. Giving dear people a future self again, something most older adults no longer really have but could with your help.
Think Normal Life
Talk with the people who live where you (only) work. What was life like for them? Talk about the seasons, prepping for the seasons, etc. And then take it slow. Break it down into months. Get ideas. Give time to talk and remember. What one says reminds another. card making, gift giving, etc. up to New Year’s…turn this list into a list for families to consider…
Give Homework/Ask for a Wish List
You could give the homework to come to planning meetings with ideas. It’s so good for people to have a reason to think and remember and maybe do some research on a topic. Have fun asking residents to bring a Wish List for Thanksgiving… why not?
Family Fall Photo Shoot
If you didn’t do this last month, you could now or just continue it. These things take time, take your time. Don’t rush. Build into your calendar some Photo Shoot times as you coordinate with families. This is another example of doing what people in society do at this time of year, family photos for the Christmas card… maybe you can too. I might suggest waiting for Dec. for perhaps a different photo shoot of just the resident maybe for the family… more to come later…
Fall or Thanksgiving Backdrop
Don’t to it alone. Ask everyone for help, ideas, props, etc. People love themes and love to help. You just have to let it be known what you are looking for…
You could break it down this month to focus on sending Thanksgiving cards in particular in preparation for Thanksgiving. Again, slowing down, one holiday at a time. Building it in. Card Making or Card Sending on the calendar in place of something else that can be offered later outside of holidays if desired by those who live there.
A variety of Card Making/Choices
Consider a progression of card making choices: make your own cards, choose from boxed cards. Maybe a talented artistic/creative person would consider making extra cards and now you have even more choices to offer. Giving the opportunity to make more and more choices is needed by isolated institutionalized people.
Thanking Each Other
You could wisely offer the idea of making or selecting, and then giving cards to staff team members particularly given the times we live in with country-wide staffing challenges. Imagine creating a warm climate with card making and giving to those who have chosen to work there or to stay there all this time. I encourage you to consider a card from individual residents so one gets LOTS of cards instead of one card signed by many… Residents may also be interested in giving Thanksgiving or Thank You cards to other residents as well. This is a terrific way to support friendships.
Thanksgiving Crafts – but ONLY elegant crafts you would use for décor in your home
Take this approach and see what happens. An activity director I consult with took this mindset with dining room table centerpieces and sure enough residents took them to their rooms because they found them so beautiful! That’s the point. They then made a second round of them for the tables….
I would want seasonal décor, even in my half a room, how about you? This time of year offers many simple ones too: pinecones, battery candles, mini pumpkins, gourds, fallen leaves.
Plants and Flowers
Perhaps still sunflowers and mums; fall/Thanksgiving arrangements.
Seasonal napkins and plates add so much.
Seasonal Foods and Treats
Candies, baked goods, warm beverages, egg nogg, hot chocolate. Pumpkin spice Chai tea and coffees. So much fun. Let the one item be the thing, remember go slow, give yourselves time, enjoy. Put on the calendar; Egg Nogg for Everyone.
Does the person associate this season with any particular music? Music boxes are special. Go after a person’s personal preferred music proactively.
Some families have each person take 5 kernels of corn from a basket and share what 5 things they are most thankful for. As any of use hear ideas and traditions from others, we tend to remember more of our own.
I encourage and challenge you to change your mindset and give it – planning with those who live there- time, plan with, ask more questions, take time, go slow, listen more. Think of it as collecting ideas. Dedicate time for planning. Let other things go for now, you can resume them again after the special holiday seasons are over. This is what makes holidays special anyway they last for a time and then we go back to the normal rhythm of our lives. Give the planning its own time and space and hang tight, next article we’ll delve into the details and do this again with … Christmas.
I would also love to hear your ideas. Happy and blessed Thanksgiving to each of you. I thank God for you and your dedication. I thank you on behalf of all of those who cannot.
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