“All people have a need to do something every day that gives a sense of value and purpose.” UsAgainstAlzheimer’s

In the same way, we at Epoch Elder Care ensure that our residents engage in meaningful activities which add value to their lives. I started my career at Epoch as a Facility Nurse and learned the importance of such activities as I grew with the organization. During this journey I was responsible for resident engagement for all Epoch homes and I am proud to say that my growth has been steady and fruitful, as today I work as the Facility Manager in one of the homes.

Over these years, based on my experience, I have acknowledged the importance of activities and the difference it has brought in our residents’ lives. The term ‘engagement’ doesn’t just mean doing anything that keeps a person busy but needs more effort and planning. To successfully engage with a resident, it's vital that you know them well as a person, which we at Epoch do with the help of the “getting to know you form”, that captures all the necessary information about a resident's life. Learning about their interests and pasts gives us an insight into what that person was like in his/her youth. Based on that and their current capabilities, activities are planned for the residents. Planning an activity is just like cooking good food, you need to put all the necessary ingredients in proper proportions for it to taste good.

Music is one of the main ingredients, and adding it to a resident’s daily routine has brought more colour to their lives, especially old evergreen songs from their time, spiritual songs etc. We have seen them humming along, especially when their favourite songs are played. One of our resident’s speech is affected due to dementia, but she starts singing fluently when her favourite songs are played and enjoys dancing to them too. Music has shown a wonderful effect on residents who are feeling low or are agitated. It helps in creating a soothing environment and can be played in the background while conducting other activities as well.

An elderly person at times lacks companionship; a person to talk to. One needs to be a good listener to hear them out and to respond to them, sometimes just spending 10 minutes listening to them can bring more joy than doing anything else. I have experienced it myself, seeing the joy of being heard and the smile that blossoms on a person’s face when they have someone to speak to. Precious moments like these give me the satisfaction of being in this profession. This individual attention that we provide to our residents is called one on one engagement. By doing this we also try to encourage them to pursue individual hobbies and activities. Being able to revisit their old hobbies and helping them do those in an enjoyable way restores their self-confidence. For residents who have spent most of their lives as housewives, doing home-like chores like folding clothes, arranging cupboards etc. brings them comfort.

We have varied festivals celebrated throughout the year and involving our residents in the celebration is another essential ingredient. Engaging them through decorating the home is a fun activity they enjoy doing and they often share small stories of their memories associated with each festival. Our residents love doing pooja and engage in all spiritual activities during the festive season, actively participating in them. We have residents from different parts of the country, with different cultures, all under one roof. By celebrating all the festivals and involving them, we do our bit in letting them enjoy things they like to do. For some, celebration is a time to dress up for the occasion, while for others it's devouring the home-made sweets. Asking for their help when planning a party or any occasion gives them the sense of fulfillment of doing things in their own way.

Activities for residents are planned based on their likes and dislikes and capabilities, while keeping in mind how the activity will help them. There are numerous activities which we do to engage our residents and there are endless experiences to share, but I have focused on a few aspects that have always helped me bring out the bliss on my residents’ faces.

Engagement involves teamwork and it gives me immense pleasure to see that everyone in the team strives to reach the goal of caring for the resident in every way possible and one such way that I have described is through ‘caring by engaging’.

“Beautiful Young people are accidents of Nature. But Beautiful Old people are works of Art.” - Eleanor Roosevelt

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