What matters to you? Continues at Lisden Care Home

By Gail Melville, Dementia Ambassador

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As part of the recent What Matters to You Day (WMTY) on the 6th June, Gail Melville, Dementia Ambassador at Lisden Care Home has been working hard to continue the theme of creating good conversations within the home.

Creating good and meaningful conversations with residents and their family helps to build relationships whilst finding out what really matters to then an individual. We spoke to Gail about how she’s brought this to life within their home.

Gail Melville

We are continuing to roll out WMTY over the weeks as an ongoing thing until we have a solid profile for all of our residents.

On the day itself, we set up our WMTY decal tree and I also set up a couple of areas throughout the home with pens, WMTY sheets upon which to write etc.  This was to allow for residents and staff to have a set up quiet space in which to pen down any thoughts they have on what matters to them.  I also used, and encouraged staff, to use a couple of techniques to help open up conversation and keep things fun and less on the formal ‘note taking’ side.

I recently made up ‘conversation balls’ for our home.  They are basically beach balls on which I have used marker pen to write a variety of conversation opening questions, such as:

  • I feel most proud of........
  • What different hair styles and colours of hair have you had?
  • Tell me about the best day of your life so far.......
  • What makes you feel most happy?
  • Tell me about your family........
  • What is your favourite meal/drink?

We used these balls by way of a fun game which encourages meaningful conversation.  The idea is to throw/roll the ball to someone and the person who catches it has to choose a question to answer.  Our residents really enjoy this activity as it not only encourages conversation, but it aids listening and also physical and mental exercise.  From the answers we were getting, I was able to fill out residents WMTY profiles.

It was important to change the approach to this depending on each resident, here at Lisden, some residents were open to more of a formal approach i.e. sitting one to one, chatting, with pen and paper.  One resident in particular, who has dementia, used to be a Head of School Teacher, really thrived on the formal approach.  I sat with pen and paper taking notes while he and his partner volunteered all sorts of information as to what matters to them.  It was very clear this formal approach appealed to our resident, and both he and his partner thanked me for my time and for taking such an interest in them.

The majority of our residents have commented along the same lines. It’s refreshing for them to be asked and to think about what really matters to them in life.  Most need a little bit of gentle prompting, but once started, all sorts of thoughts, memories; desires and achievements come to mind.

Using the tools you have provided really helps us in our quest to deliver truly person centred care within the care home.  For staff it means we get to know the people we care for in a deeper, more meaningful way, and for our residents, they feel listened to, cared for and most of all important. It also helps up identify staff and residents with common interests, often leading to better and meaningful conversations for everyone involved.