Changing population requires out-of-the-box approach: LEC
Joanne Brown embraces unique programming ideas
July 26, 2012
Today’s long-term care home residents are more diversified, requiring life enrichment co-ordinators (LECs) to respond with creativity.
From hatching chickens to raising butterflies, Joanne Brown has innovative ideas up her sleeve. The new-to-Maplewood LEC says pet therapy — whether it’s the traditional St. John Ambulance therapy dog service or a more unusual activity, such as racing frogs — tends to be a popular way to engage residents who range in age and cognitive ability.
“The programming has changed drastically,” Brown tells the OMNIway.
While group activities like crafts tended to work well in the past, the population is different now.
Brown says residents were generally more nimble when she entered the long-term care sector 30 years ago. For instance, residents typically walked into long-term care. Today, they’re often using wheelchairs or utilizing walkers.
The population is typically older and has more complex-care needs.
Some residents have Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia and others are younger people who have an intellectual disability.
While she has learned pet therapy and music therapy can strike a chord with most residents, she’s often exploring additional ideas to meet the five domains— physical, emotional, spiritual, social and intellectual — of a person’s well-being.
A group approach to programming doesn’t always necessarily satisfy individual needs, Brown explains.
“The reality is more people need one-on-one activities. We’re needing to have more one-to-one contact.”
Brown says Montessori-based techniques can help create meaningful programs for residents who have cognitive impairment. The techniques, which were initially designed to aid students with developmental difficulties, help maintain cognitive skills, as well as reduce wandering in residents affected by dementia.
Brown has also discovered tai chi, art therapy and drumming circles to be beneficial.
With the increased individualized programming residents need, Brown suggests forging strong community connections.
She hopes to engage as many helping hands as possible, such as students and volunteers.
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