Small acts of care lead to big smiles at The Glens

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Care staff at HammondCare’s The Glens nursing home in Caulfield in Melbourne have developed a simple program to make sure residents are smiling and their loved ones get to share in the joy – despite the challenging conditions of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Called ‘Small Acts = Big Smiles’, the program encourages care staff to talk with residents regularly about what they would like to achieve in the next few days and when a meaningful goal is identified, it is written down and a photo is taken with resident, staff member and the written goal.

The photo is then shared with family through a ‘KeepInTouch’ communications channel offered through all HammondCare residential aged care homes.

Manager Charles Crisostomo says: “Our residents and staff members have been so excited by Small Acts=Big Smiles and it is a great way for us to help keep our focus on those who are most important – the residents.

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“Even though this is a response to the restrictions associated with the pandemic, we intend to keep this going after it ends as it is so successful. Our small acts in helping residents achieve personal life goals, however small, are leading to their big smiles.”

Charles gave some heart-warming examples, such as a resident who is often quiet and withdrawn who expressed a desire to play a drum. He had so much fun doing this, that other residents were drawn to his room and started dancing.

Other staff noticed some of the residents were missing their regular coffee outing with volunteer Barry. So they organised to set up a ‘café’ outdoors and take the residents out into the sunshine, where they served coffee and treats. And they arranged a Skype call with Barry, much to the residents’ surprise and delight.

Another resident who cannot mobilise and prefers to spend much of her time alone in her room, expressed a desire to dance and so her Specialist Dementia Carer organised for a music therapist to visit the same day.

They danced together – the resident singing and dancing gracefully by moving her arms to the music, with smiles all round.

Another Specialist Dementia Carer responded to a resident’s desire to paint, by purchasing materials herself so that they could both paint Easter bunnies.It was such a success that it is grown into regular art activity with other residents.

Charles said the beauty of all these activities was that not only did the residents enjoy them, but by sharing with family it helped them feel connected to their loved one and have confidence in the care they were receiving.

“It’s great to remember that our small acts of care, through getting to know residents better, can lead to big smiles for all of us.”

HammondCare is supporting a range of innovative ways for residents to be meaningfully engaged and connected with their loved ones, even while continuing to allow limited visits. For more information, click here.

CAPTION: Resident Dennis enjoys a cup of coffee in the sunlit 'cafe' and later, enjoys catching up popular long-time volunteer, Barry, by Skype.