On Tuesday, my dad and I attended one of the Family Council sessions at the long term care home my mom is at. It was our first time attending a session – and I can tell you it won’t be our last. We felt a little out of place at first with it being our first session, and I feel like there’s a bit of catch up to do. At the end of the day, it was worthwhile.
I will tell you, I was surprised to see how low the attendance was. The executive of the council did let us know that they don’t usually have summer sessions, but this one was a session that had to be rescheduled. She mentioned lower attendance in the summer – yet it still bugged me.
One of the reasons I really enjoyed this month’s session, outside of the absolute kindness of everyone there, was our main topic of discussion: the Redstone dementia unit at Malton Village. A nursing home specialist, David Sheard, started a yearlong project working alongside the Peel Region to try out some new methods that he had been researching for years. It’s about making the home more welcoming. Encouraging the residents of a long term care home to flourish. The Toronto Star put together an project based on this collaboration (click here to read the four part article – and you SHOULD read it) and a video, which I’ve included below.
I encourage you all to sit through the next 20 minutes of this video. This video brought tears to my eyes while sitting in that family council, surrounded by family members of other residents that live in the long term care home with my mother. This video, this project, is my Friday Favourite this week.
One of the things that I really loved about the home that we got my mom into was the feel of the home. We had toured another home, not far from this one, when we were looking at homes to add to our application list for the LIHN. The other home felt very much like a hospital. The floors felt hospital like. The walls, the lighting, the main hub. Everything made you feel like you were in a hospital. It didn’t feel like home. The home down the street, where my mom now lives, feels more like a home. It’s carpeted floors, and normal, non-hospital lighted hallways.
What David Sheard is doing is creating more home-like long term care homes. He wants to help these dementia patients live and not just be. Yes, these men and woman have a degenerative disease – but it doesn’t mean that they can’t enjoy life. They might not remember you, or me, but by bringing life into the home, they can at least find some sense of normality within the walls that they will reside for – let’s be honest about it – the rest of their lives.
Sherd has gathered his conclusions by doing hundreds of audits of long term care homes, studying them, and understanding what makes residents tick, and even what can help the individuals that work there day after day grow and find themselves more comfortable in the situations that present themselves.
I hadn’t heard about this program before. And I’m regretful about it, having ties to the Peel Region through the company I work for. But I am 100% for this, and it just started flowing ideas through my brains of ideas where we can help the home that my mom loves in adapt more to this butterfly program. And they themselves have already started to think ahead – they’ve picked new paint colours that they will trial run in one of their wards, and see what results come of it. I’m hoping by sharing this with you that maybe it’ll stir something in your head. Maybe it’ll encourage you to visit your loved one in a nursing home, and learn to love them as they are – even more than you love them as they were.
I’ll leave you a quote from Sheard, that he spoke while convincing the Peel Region Councillors that this was a project they needed to get behind.
“We want families to want this. We want families to realize, yes, you have been losing your relative to dementia, yes, it is painful, but there is a bridge you can cross and if you cross the bridge into the person with dementia’s reality… you can learn to re-love them as they are now.
“And if you do, you will be left with positive loving memories after they’ve gone. That is a choice we have to be able to offer families, to say there is a way through this pain. There is a way to be left with a love, that is different.”
Share. Encourage. Love.