PROMOTING MATESHIP AND BELONGING – The Men’s Group making a difference at BlueWave.

When people consider residential aged care for someone they love, they often look at obvious things such as the location, meals, furnishings and medical care. What is often overlooked is the leisure and lifestyle activities on offer.

It’s human nature to want to help, participate and succeed in our day-to-day ventures. Everybody, including those in aged care, has the desire to participate in meaningful activities.

Finding the right activities for people in residential aged care, and especially those with dementia, can be challenging.

At BlueWave Living, they take the time to get to know their residents, and their past, to help identify activities that resonate with their former lifestyle. These include special interests and hobbies, travel experiences, family dynamics, spiritual and cultural differences, and past skills.

By introducing meaningful activities, BlueWave aims to encourage participation, boost self-esteem, stimulate the senses and fulfil emotional needs.

For people with dementia, activities are an extremely important aspect of their care. Many concerning behaviours displayed by people living with dementia stem from boredom or lack of stimulation. While most people enjoy sitting and doing nothing for a few hours, the reality of doing nothing over a longer period of time is far from enjoyable.

In particular, men with dementia often feel isolated and need encouragement to socialise and expand their social networks. This is often due to a decline in communication skills and confidence. A lack of meaningful purpose can be linked with poor health, depression, agitation and other medical problems.

But being able to participate in suitable activities can make a person feel independent, empowered and validated.

In recent months, the team at BlueWave Living has expanded their Men’s Group activities. The group aims to decrease isolation and loneliness by providing a relaxed space for social interaction that will not only increase stimulation but also facilitate friendships and combat loneliness and isolation.

The men enjoy structured activities such as woodwork, remote control car racing and gardening. A number of volunteers visit the facility and there are presentations about subjects including fishing, bush regeneration and planes. Sometimes it’s just about enjoying a quiet beer and reminiscing.

A couple of highlights this year included a special visit from the Classic Car Club, which was a hit with all the residents, and the most notable was when two beautiful Clydesdale horses roamed the hallways at BlueWave Living.

Leisure & Lifestyle Officer Merilyn Tanswell said, ”In most aged care facilities the ratio of men to women is unbalanced. At present, less than a third of our residents are male. Even though our men are outnumbered, our activity program is delivered with the interests of all residents, both men and women, in mind.

“Introducing the Men’s Group has been a truly positive initiative. Seeing the men come together as a group, recognising each other, sharing a smile and shaking hands shows the true potential of this group. I’m really glad to be part of this wonderful program.”

BlueWave has received lots of positive feedback from families who are just so happy to see their loved ones participating in activities that are suitable for them as individuals.

The flow on effect from these interactions is that male residents are more calm, enjoying other male company and looking forward to their next group activity.

“We also find that these tailored activities boost staff morale. Walking past and seeing the men interacting and chatting about the ‘good old days’ really does bring a smile to our faces. Both the staff and residents look forward to these moments,” says Merilyn.