Each service user at our specialist residential care homes has their own individual care plan, which is designed to provide therapies and activities to meet their needs and help them to reach their personal goals. These therapies may include psychological support, psychiatry, speech & language therapy, occupational therapy, physiotherapy as well as exercise and activities of daily living. Our aim is for these activities to be enjoyable and stimulating; not to necessarily feel like ‘therapy’ but to be part of the individual’s weekly routine.
One of the psychological therapies we provide is Cognitive Stimulation Therapy. It’s a weekly group activity and each session has a different focus, for example current affairs or creativity. Cognitive Stimulation Therapy aims to promote and reinforce growth in areas such as memory, concentration and communication. It also stimulates social interaction, increases confidence and well-being. The Cognitive Stimulation Therapy sessions are designed to be fun, and are person-centred, tailored to meet each individual’s needs and preferences.
In this blog post, we take a look at a recent Cognitive Stimulation Therapy session for some of our service users who have an acquired brain injury; what the session involves and how it benefits the individuals taking part. The session starts with orientation: reinforcing the time, date, place, season, etc. Then moves on to the activity of the week.
This time it’s creativity: making personal globes.
Each service user started by making their own personal paper mâché ‘globe’. This involved lots of PVA glue and tissue paper, stuck onto an inflated balloon. The service users chose the colours they wanted and got stuck in with the creative mess. This particular session was attended by several residents who don’t often engage in group activity, so this was amazing progress.
Once the paper mâché was dry, we popped the balloons and asked the guys to illustrate the globe with pictures that represented them as people. The results were quite amazing! On this occasion, Assistant Psychologist, Olivia, ran the session and was supported by Admissions Co-ordinator, Ebony. They had spent some time sourcing lots of images that may resonate with the service users, such as images to convey emotion, relationships, hobbies, family, careers and their brain injuries.
They jumbled all of the images around and, without much direction, the individuals started to pick out the images that spoke to them. This was such a great activity: it enabled the service users to express elements of their lives before their injuries and who they are as a person. As you’d expect, there were huge variations – one resident looked for an image of a diamond ring to represent his engagement, while another illustrated his many years as a taxi driver and love of chicken!
Ebony worked on a 1:1 basis with Andy*. He picked out the images and Ebony prompted him to think about why he chose them and how they resonate with him as an individual. This is what he said.
Smiling face: “I like this because he’s laughing. He represents my humour”
Water: “Because I love to swim.”
Glasses: “I wear glasses: they represent me physically.”
Watering can and growing plants: “Because I really like gardening – it could represent personal growth too”.
Couple in love: “This one represents my need to love and be loved. I would really like to get married one day.”
Hard hat: “This represents my former job as a labourer and how I really want to get back to work. I’d like to be a plumber or a bricklayer.”
Dog: “This represents my family dog and my love for animals.
Two men hugging: “This reminds me of my Dad. I have a very close relationship with him and it’s important to include this – he has grey hair too!”
Knife and fork: “I’m a typical man, always thinking about food!”
Yin and Yang: “I associate this with Thai Chi martial arts – my Dad teaches Thai Chi.” After a bit of research Andy decided to include it in his project as he felt it represented ‘life’.
A hospital: “This is a big part of my identity, I spent a lot of time in hospital, but that wasn’t necessarily a bad thing.”
Ebony expressed how proud she was of Andy, as this was the first activity that he had fully engaged in enough to complete. He said he thought it was because it had really got him thinking and had been fun to do.
No two brain injuries are the same and person-centred care is all about treating the person, not the injury. Individuals are shaped by the lives that they had before their injury and we respect that person, aiming to restore as much of them as we can.
*We have changed the name of the service user to protect his identity