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Activities of daily living require a huge range of cognitive skills, which we develop from childhood as we grow. However, someone who has an acquired brain injury has to re-learn many of these skills. At Richardson Care we take an holistic approach, where members of our clinical team work with each service user to develop the skills they have lost. These include communication and cognitive skills, physical abilities and mental well-being.

In addition to the therapeutic interventions from the clinical team, our service users take part in a wide range of daily activities, depending on their personal preferences. We aim for these activities to be fun and inclusive, catering for a wide range of skill levels and tastes so the service users enjoy the activities and engage in them. These activities support the work of the therapists, without actually feeling like therapy, and can have a positive and lasting effect.

During the coronavirus pandemic, we have had to be more resourceful and creative as our service users have not been able to access the local community for their usual range of activities. This has meant providing a varied schedule within the home, and these ‘science experiments’ were an imaginative way to support cognitive skills in a group setting.

Experiment 1: Travelling Rainbow Water
This simple experiment shows colours travelling through kitchen roll and mixing together to make new colours. We started with three cups of water, one red, one blue and one yellow. We separated the cups of coloured water with empty cups and connected them all with kitchen roll. It takes a bit of time for the magic to happen, but the group were very patient with the experiment and the results were definitely worth the wait.

Experiment 2: Storm in a Cup
With water, shaving foam and food colouring, we recreated the science of the rain clouds! We half-filled our cups with water and added a layer of shaving foam, ensuring it floated flat above the water. We then added coloured water, drop by drop to the shaving foam. When the water became too heavy for the foam, the sudden swirling clouds of colour sparked plenty of gasps and giggles.

Experiment 3: DIY Lava Lamps
We made our own lava lamp reactions using vegetable oil, water, food colouring and an Alka-Seltzer tablet – the contents of the cup bubble around together mimicking the reaction of a lava lamp.

This activity lasted for over an hour and all service users who took part were engaged for the entirety of the session and helped to clean up afterwards. This activity promoted cognitive skills such as reading and following instructions, patience, coordination, listening to direction, creativity and curiosity. Members of the group were also encouraged to think about how the reactions worked. A number of them commented on the difference weights of the materials in the Storm in a Cup activity, how the materials separated in the DIY Lava Lamps and how the tissue paper absorbed the colour to make the Travelling Rainbow Water.


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Many of us who are fortunate to have a garden are giving it much more attention since the Coronavirus restrictions started. The gardens in our specialist care homes are no exception. Not only are the gardens benefiting from extra TLC, so are our service users.

All of our homes have large gardens and/or outdoor space that is used for a variety of activities, depending on the needs and preferences of service users.

The Mews – home for adults with acquired brain injury

One of our service users had taken ownership of some raised flowerbeds, which had been neglected, and as we’re all confined to the home and garden, he had some helpers. He trusted Ebony and Paige (two of our Admissions & Referrals Co-ordinators) along with another service user to get involved. They revamped the whole patch: dug, weeded, replanted some of the existing plants and added new ones. They planted herbs and vegetables as well as sowing some seeds.

Everyone enjoyed it, and one of the guys who suffered low mood said he had a really great day. Research, as well as anecdotal evidence, has shown that gardening activity has many well-being benefits – it’s mindful and calming, reducing stress and the symptoms of anxiety. It’s a meaningful activity, providing focus and hope – seeing plants grow and develop gives us something to look forward to in these uncertain times. In addition, neurological injury can impact on the brain’s ability to control physical movements, so weeding and planting seeds, for example, can help to improve fine motor skills.

The large garden at The Mews was perfect for our Easter treasure hunt and is also used for a wide range of games and activities.

The Coach House – home for adults with acquired brain injury

Adjacent to The Mews, service users at The Coach House have access to all of the gardens. They also have their own outside space with patios next to some of the bedrooms and a lovely sunny terrace at the front of the home. The service users have been enjoying the sunshine – having lunch outside, playing giant noughts and crosses, listening to the birds and enjoying nature.

144 Boughton Green Road  – long-term home for men with acquired brain injury

The large rear garden has a big lawn, which is great for football, badminton, croquet and outdoor darts. Families have been very supportive and donated some outdoor games, including giant Snakes & Ladders and Jenga. The patio is perfect for sitting in the sun and chilling out – just being outside has benefits of engaging all the senses, Vitamin D absorption, improving sleep and general well-being. We also have some extra gazebos, so there is plenty of shade and the guys have been eating alfresco when the weather’s been good. We had a barbecue one Friday and everyone really enjoyed themselves. One of the service users was the DJ for the day, and has now nominated himself as the home’s DJ!

There’s also been plenty of gardening activity – we’ve started a vegetable and herb garden, sowing seeds, and potting up plants. We’re hoping to grow potatoes, carrots, sweetcorn, tomatoes, cucumbers, aubergines and chillies.

23 Duston Road – home for adults with learning disabilities and complex needs

The back garden at Duston Road has a summerhouse, trampoline, tables and chairs, so can be enjoyed for a variety of activities. There was great joy recently when Martin the Music Man came to visit. He usually comes to the home every week, but had stopped coming because of social distancing rules. However, an improvement in the weather meant that he could play his guitar and sing, while maintaining a social distance. The guys and girls were really pleased to see him and he spread some musical cheer to everyone at the home.

2 & 8 Kingsthorpe Grove – homes for adults with learning disabilities and complex needs

The garden and patio provide some lovely outside space for games and other activities. However, the service users’ favourite thing at the moment is our new shop! They are all missing their trips to the local shops and cafes so we’ve converted the summerhouse. Tables and chairs are set up in the garden and they are all loving it.

We are trying to provide a sense of normality and routine, as well as some fun, during these difficult times. Outdoor space (especially when the weather is good) gives us additional opportunities to do this. A whole range of activities contribute to well-being and rehabilitation in a number of ways from enhancing mood to improving physical skills.


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