Blue Care Qld
Play is an essential part of living and learning at all ages. People living with dementia can still find joy and reawakened expression through playful experiences, and playing with new ideas helps find innovative answers to the unique needs of residents. Play helps all of us to live to our full potential.
The Play Up™ program, an Arts Health Institute (AHI) initiative, was introduced in early 2013 as a 12-week pilot in seven residential facilities. It uses humour therapy to reduce agitation and increase happiness and positive behaviours in residents who live with dementia, who may be self-isolating or depressed. The program also aims to increase morale, and promote teamwork and a happy work environment for all staff.
The program involves regular visits by an Arts Health Institute's Play Up Valet (performer), who partners with one of the organisation’s staff (Play up Partner) to provide therapeutic intervention for each assessed resident.
• Mood charts of fifty residents showed residents felt happier after each session.
• 48% of residents with a history of falling had fewer falls.
• The use of antipsychotic medication decreased 52% in the five months after Play Up™ compared to the preceding five months.
• Staff reported significantly improved confidence to communicate, build relationships and engage in pleasant activities and conversation with residents, and to create fun atmospheres with residents and colleagues.
• Staff reported feeling more enthusiastic, that their work had meaning and purpose, and that their workplaces had a positive atmosphere.
This program fits so well with the organisation’s culture change based on The FISH! Philosopy – the elements being Play, Be There, Make Their Day and Choose Your Attitude – and Blue Care’s Tailor Made Service Model to improve person-centred care, that it really could not be ignored!
The cluster support team worked with managers, and identified key staff across all facilities to introduce and evaluate the program consistently with the assistance of our retired General Practitioner.
Dressed in fun costumes, the Valet starts in the middle of a room. Surrounding the valet are the participating residents. With a variety of tools – from balloons to musical instruments – performers engage residents in a caring and gentle way, with playful energy. Some residents respond immediately by singing or dancing. Some are slower to get involved, but after just 15 minutes there is seen to be an effect on every person there.
Play Up sessions are held weekly. They include:
• One Valet, as the humour therapist, working for two hours “on the floor” in one area, and a half-hour before and after working with our organisation’s partner to mentor, de-brief and plan interactions.
• Sessions involve 10 residents per session, using a case management approach to the humour therapy.
• Opportunities arise for ad-hoc, impromptu moments for other residents not listed in the Play Up Plan, particularly when residents are in groups, or passing Play Up “rounds”.
Evaluation of the pilot included: mood charts for residents on the program; review of resident incidents; staff surveys before/after the pilot commenced, exploring the program's impact; and a review of medication usage at one large facility.
Analysis of mood charts of 50 residents showed that all residents felt happier after each session of Play Up. The analysis of incidents found 48% of residents with a history of falling had fewer falls. The use of antipsychotic medication at one large facility decreased 52% in the five months after Play Up™.
Staff reported Play Up significantly improved their confidence to communicate, build relationships and engage in pleasant activities and conversation with residents. They had more confidence to create fun atmospheres, with residents and also among co-workers. Though staff indicated that the workplace could be stressful, after the program they felt their work had meaning and purpose, they were more enthusiastic, and their workplace had a positive atmosphere.
Panel member’s comments:
This is an excellent example of an integrated strategy across multiple sites. The integration of both across multiple sites is worthy of recognition
For more information about the program, contact Linda Taylor, GM, Blue Care South Coast Cluster Office, L.Taylor@bluecare.org.au or phone (07) 5581 3668 or the Arts Health Institute web page www.artshealthinstitute.org.au/News/Blue-Care-Playing-Up.aspx