Lisa and I had organised to visit a care home with elderly people who have dementia. I found this to be an eye-opening experience as I have personally never met someone with this illness. The patients arrive at 9am and are collected by family members at 3pm. Throughout the day they are able to take part in multiple activities such as playing pool, board games, singing or having their nails painted.
Our first activity of the morning was playing a game of family fortunes with the clients. The staff in this facility use this game as a brain training exercise, this allows for the elderly to think of different answers and remember things that they may have otherwise forgotten.
What I found most surprising was how aware and alert the clients were. On television, people with dementia are often depicted as always being confused and not aware or their surroundings however, the majority of these ladies and gentlemen knew exactly where they were and why. This came as a surprise as I have only ever seen dementia played by actors in movies and television shows and not in real life. I believe that I had built up a picture in my head of dementia which was not factual.
An aspect of this visit that I found challenging was during the exercise class. The clients had each been given a small bean bag and were asked to throw it into the bucket in the centre of the room. This exercise was used to encourage blood flow around their arms. During this activity, one of the clients throw her bean bag with force at me. I did not know how to respond to this action however, I alerted one of the staff members. As a student teacher, the normal reaction to a child doing this would be to punish them by removing golden time or giving them a warning etc. However, you are unable to do this with the elderly and this is why I particularly struggled during this moment.
During the visit, I found the quiz games the most enjoyable part. It was really nice to see the elderly clients challenging themselves and seeing the excitement on their faces when they got the questions correct.
From this community project, I learned that in this particular facility, there is limited involvement of the community. The facility happily welcome volunteers like Lisa and I. However, during our visit we found that we were the only volunteers alongside a girl from the local high school who was helping out once a week.
Whilst out for this community project, there was limited information provided about the local community. The building itself was located in a park called Eastwood Park. The facility is run by two charities; Age Concern Eastwood and Age Concern Eastwood Dementia Project. This facility is a non-profit facility.
Whilst out on this community placement, I found that one of my qualities was the patience I had with the elderly clients. Due to their age and illness, it sometimes took them a while to move about or to communicate however, I ensured that I did not rush them. I definitely have grown a lot of respect for the staff in this care facility as the job does require patience and it keeps them on their toes.
This opportunity allows people to deeper their understanding of mental health and how to respond to various situations or incidents which may occur, so this develops the staffs competencies.
By having extensive understanding of this illness, it allows for the teacher to empathise with students who may have family members who suffer with this illness. Furthermore, these skills and competencies broaden the educators understanding of the spectrum of mental health and to know that meantal health effects people of all ages and not just the elderly. The educator can transfer these skills to pupils in their own class and thus, have patience when working with children with mental health issues.
This particular experience provided me with insight of how to adjust to certain scenarios. This skill of adjustment can be implemented into education and teaching as I will be able to adjust to every individual student. Alongside this, I will be able to adjust and change the classroom setting and teaching practices to suit children with mental health and other additional support needs. This experience has allowed me to feel emotion which these clients may have and has allowed for me to share experiences with them.
Each experience from the sustainable development module, in its own elements, has a connection to society and has an influence and impact on each other such as diversity and biodiversity in life.