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  • Linnea Maki

It's Always Sunny

A few years ago, we decided to update our Welcome Room. The Welcome Room was previously used for activity programs. As our resident's needs evolved, the room transitioned into a dining room.

The Welcome Room is now used as our Enhanced Dining Room. Before lunch and dinner, the Therapeutic Recreation Department provides a sensory group activity for our residents who dine in the Enhanced. Its purpose is to engage residents in a way that awakens their senses and promotes alertness for meals.

We play music, read short stories, use different scented lotions for hand massages, aromatherapy oils, provide light shoulder & back massages, wash residents hands with scented soaps and encourage independent activity projects such as simple puzzles and memory games.

We especially love when it's warm and we can take residents outside for sensory groups! I can't think of anything more stimulating than breathing in fresh air, feeling the warm sunshine, seeing the beautiful flowers blooming and hearing all the birds chirping. :-)

I had always envisioned that the Welcome/Enhanced Room should be designed in a way to stimulate our resident's senses like being outdoors does. I wanted the walls to be painted in a positive and uplifting color and the pictures on the walls to be bright colors and familiar scenery that would trigger happy memories for our residents.

Barb Rafftery, who works in our Therapeutic Recreation Department, had taken some pictures of incredible sunrises and sunsets at her home on Lake Francis. Terri Matchey, whose mother was a resident here, had also captured beautiful sunrises and sunsets and wanted to contribute those pictures for our residents too.

It took a couple of coats, but we painted over the sage green walls with light yellow. We enlarged the pictures of sunrises and sunsets and turned them into canvas prints. The room feels happy!

A few days after the room had been changed, a member of my team was having a sensory group. It was a pretty gloomy day...raining, grey skies, chilly....

She was reading short stories to the group when a nursing assistant brought a resident in for her lunch. This resident was someone who never lost her happiness and positive spirit even as her dementia advanced.

As she was wheeled inside, the rest of the group was met with her big smile. She greeted everyone with several "hellos" her voice echoing throughout the room. She was always smiling, cheery & her big brown eyes always had a twinkle. She joined into the group to listen to the stories.

As she listened to the stories, her eyes wandered around the room. She was looking at all the new pictures on the walls. In that moment, she was just so happy she couldn't contain it. Right in the middle of the story, she blurted out, "WOW! Look at this sunshine! Isn't it a beautiful day?!!"

I'm so glad that my team member agreed with her that indeed it was a beautiful and sunny day. It may have been gloomy, rainy, grey & chilly to some of us...but to her, it was a sunny and beautiful day.

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