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Keeping connected during lockdown Post Cover Image

We are a small “bubble”, with 7 residents ranging in age from 66 to 93, a caregiver, a diversional therapist, and a memory care leader.

Our programs are a mixture of small group and one to one activity and we aim to incorporate all the senses. During lockdown we need to compensate for the outings residents would generally enjoy, but luckily we have a beautiful internal courtyard with a circular walkway and big garden which means we can still do a lot outdoors. Click & Collect means we can still order seedlings and herbs to begin our planting for summer!

Word Games are a fun activity– how many words can we make from one large word (the retired teachers love this!). Indoor bowls is also a favourite, good for the mind and body, challenging our balance and strength. We have also introduced personalised music playlists for each resident with support from their families, with familiar tunes they can sing along to.

Each day when everyone is ready for some relaxation, we have a group discussion using Beautiful Questions – questions that allow us to be creative, and where there are no right or wrong answers. We sometimes use historical pictures as conversation prompts too – we take turns creating a story about what is happening in the picture.

This has also been a great time for people to re-engage in activities they did in their past. One of the residents has re-started knitting at age 92 – the joy it brought to her face and the reminiscing that continued was a great moment.

Regular walks outside give us much needed fresh air and exercise, and although we all need to wear masks, we have surprisingly had no complaints (apart from beards that get in the way).

Keeping in touch with loved ones is critical, and understandably we use a lot of video calling during lockdowns. One resident’s son connects from Auckland where he is also in level 3, so they can commiserate with one another! In the afternoons we also have regular in-person visits from nominated visitors – partners of the residents who wear masks and use sanitiser on the way in and out.

One challenge is our staff needing to wear masks all day – especially when trying to communicate with the residents. Our mouths are covered so they cannot read lips or easily see our facial expressions. We are investigating clear masks that are still effective to help with this. In the meantime, I am sure the smile lines around my eyes have been enhanced through trying to share my smile!

Shelley Kennedy
Memory Care Lead and Occupational Therapist
Summerset, Rototuna, Hamilton

Two people playing indoor bowls