Bringing Joy to Irene
How can we reach her?
Irene is a lady who is living with later stage dementia. Staff told us that most of the time she doesn’t speak, and how sad it is to see her so unhappy and withdrawn. As Irene is a particularly hard to reach individual, her care home decided that she would benefit from taking part in an Alive Multi-Sensory Session. These sessions are designed to enrich the lives of people who are living with complex needs and are proven to have a significantly positive effect on the care home atmosphere. Sessions can follow themes and transport individuals to a time or place that is calming and familiar like a seaside, woodland or English rose garden- connecting them with nature and the outside world. Individuals are able to connect better with others during the sessions, reducing the risk of isolation, loneliness and feelings of depression.
Happy for contact
When we arrived at her care home, Irene was sitting in a chair with her eyes closed and her head down. We sat with her and introduced ourselves, shaking her hand and then keeping hold of it. Irene started to gently rub our hand, quietly humming and enjoying the physical contact. We asked if she would like us to smooth some hand cream onto her hands, and she nodded. We started to massage Irene’s hands, and she began to gently massage us back. Irene’s whole body visibly relaxed and the tensions and worries of life seemed to melt away.
Suddenly, Irene took off her slipper and presented her foot on our lap! We gave her a foot massage, using a thick scented cream that smelt of roses. In the background we were playing gentle music, a famous wintery piece of classical music called The Skaters Waltz. Closing her eyes Irene began to hum along, waving her hands as if conducting an orchestra. As the music came to a crescendo Irene began to smile and her movements became bigger until she was moving her arms and dancing in her chair!
A gentle approach
As the waltz came to an end Irene opened her eyes and smiled a huge smile. Stroking our cheek, she said, “lovely”. The slow and gentle approach that we use in our Multi-Sensory sessions was exactly what Irene needed to become herself again; to feel safe, to feel energized and to feel connected.
*The image used here is not that of the person in the story.