In a combined project between head office staff and The Beeches we put together a unique session to try and dispel some of the anxieties our residents were feeling towards becoming ‘silver surfers’.
Home manager Kayleigh and the brilliant events coordinator Marie told regional manager Steven about the residents wish to understand the internet better, so he enlisted the help of our new training coordinator Samera and head of marketing and social media Samantha Bailey.
Handling different aspects of the session Samera, Samantha and Marie split the session into three main parts.
Samera began the session by doing a reminiscence activity with residents to show them how fun and relaxing the internet can be, to try and dispel the fears they had about surfing the web. The class began with a question and answer session covering various topics to try and give us a better idea of how our residents would get the most out of their brand new touch screen computer in their activities room.
A number of our residents were interested in classical music, and using Youtube we showed them how to search and watch their favourite performers. They were over the moon!
After watching extracts of Roy Orbison, Elvis Costello and Katherine Jenkins we moved on to their hobbies. We discovered that a number of our wonderful residents knit, but were struggling to get the knitting patterns they were after.
We set up a Pinterest account for the home with boards labelled by name so that residents could explore and save patterns and images to their hearts content. They found it relatively easy to navigate and enjoyed being able to see all of the creative uses of knitting from across the globe.
Here is the board we created for Jean who wanted knitting patterns and to see what sort of inspiration she could gather by looking at stitching and knitting designs which other people had made.
We found that this was a particularly joyful moment for Pam, who is an artist and enjoys spending her time painting watercolours of the beautiful grounds surrounding The Beeches. She photographs the surrounding area and then paints from the reference images; but now she has the opportunity to paint scenes from anywhere she can think of.
A wonderful display of some of Pam’s paintings which she has done of The Beeches and the surrounding area.
We showed her how to print images using their new printer and she took a print of Scotland with her to use as a reference image in the future. She said:
“Because I cant get around like I used to I always paint the same places like the garden – but now I don’t have to. I can paint anywhere I like”
Here is the board we made with Pam, giving her a host of beautiful images which she can then use as references and inspiration for her watercolour paintings.
Samantha took residents on a tour of memory lane by showing them how they could explore image search to revisit places they had lived throughout their lives. She then went on to show them how to navigate maps to get the experience of what it would be like to walk around their home towns now. This sparked some great conversations with residents telling us all about their experiences as ‘youngsters’ and turned a learning resource into a fun and vibrant experience for everyone.
A brilliant example of this would be our resident Norma, who is originally from Sunderland. She delighted in telling us about her father’s job as harbour master when she was growing up. As Sunderland was such a hub of engineering at the time, we were able to show her archive material of the port running when her father worked their, really reconnecting her to her roots.
We created a more nostalgic board for Norma about her upbringing in Sunderland finding photographs which represented the way it looked in her memory.
“It’s an entirely different world, being able to see photographs of it like that. It’s like going back in time – it certainly looks a lot different now”.
Marie then headed the final section of the class, and arguably the most important part: Online Communication.
By showing the residents step-by-step how to create their own email address; setting one up as an example, and teaching them how to send mail they’re reconnected to old friends and family who live far away.
This is something that we think will give our residents a wonderful sense of community and connection to their family, with some of our residents children living as far away as Melbourn, Australia. This also gives them the freedom to integrate with a community further afield than the home and the village of East Harling, and reignite relationships which have become more difficult to maintain over time.
Residents were practically giddy when they sent their first email out into the internet-sphere – addressed to The Beeches email address to ensure they also got to experience their first ping of their inbox.
Kayleigh was waiting diligently in the office for our communication to come through, and in the true spirit of our resident group at The Beeches they sent a comedic email to their manager. She replied swiftly continuing the comedy, giving our residents a good laugh when it came through.
The session was a brilliant success – showing the residents who were somewhat reluctant to get online, the wonderful opportunities that the internet could offer them.
We only ran them through a few of the basic opportunities of this new world which can be intimidating if you’ve not been a part of it before – but they left the session excited to have the new facility in their home and eager to get back in touch with old friends and watch entertainers from when they were young.
The residents who attended seem to feel a lot more comfortable surfing the internet now, but we understand that they’re going to need some support as using the internet can be strange at first.
They don’t need to worry too much though as they’ll be able to back up their new knowledge and practice to their hearts content on the computers whenever they like, and they’ll be able to reinforce their knowledge by joining the Silver Surfers club.
We’re now further supporting their ability to go online as our Dementia friendly keyboards have arrived, they have larger keys in different colours allowing them to be pressed and read by our residents much easier as they take into account hand-shake and are easier to read for people with Dementia associated sight problems.