PLAC Awards 2012: Activities to enrich life

The 2012 Positive Living in Aged Care Awards – a NSW initiative – were presented this week at Sydney’s historic Luna Park.

Above: The 2012 PLAC Award winners.

By Stephen Easton

Activity programs to bring happiness and give older people a sense of purpose in NSW aged care facilities were celebrated this week at the 2012 Positive Living in Aged Care (PLAC) Awards

To be recognised in the awards, each project has to not only impress the PLAC judging panel and meet a required standard of excellence, but its success must be quantified using a recognised clinical assessment tool.

The first category – for strategies to improve outcomes for residents with a mental health diagnosis – was won by Feros Care Byron Bay, for a project that gave residents truly important work to do, making toys, schoolbags and pencil cases for needy children in Madagascar.

The project came about after two missionaries, Brendon Singhdeo and Diiary Ratambhaoaka, came to the facility in February and told of their work building a school for 300 kids from the small Madagascan community of Ambohidanerana.

Above: Marion Griffin from Feros Care Byron Bay displays a library bag made for children in Madagscar by the residents.

Feros Care Byron Bay manager, Natalie Carter, explained that the project’s first challenge was to make 300 schoolbags in three months, which was helped along by team leader Marion Griffin’s well-honed craft and textiles skills.

Clermont Aged Care in Ryde, a suburb of Sydney, was awarded Highly Commended in the same category, for the a music therapy program run by the enthusiastic Belinda Burns, a music therapist who was hired by the facility after doggedly pursuing work in the aged care sector.

“We want to increase satisfaction and purpose in life and bring a sense of belonging… [music therapy can] increase the ability to relate and communicate and reduce the problematic behaviours and depressive symptoms that people [in aged care facilities] experience,” Ms Burns said

Above: Music therapist Belinda Burns.

Ms Burns also fosters intergenerational exchange through the music therapy program, by recording video messages and relaying them back and forth between some aged care residents and some from a nearby school where she also works. 

The second category recognised “universal strategies to promote the mental health and well being of residents by increasing protective factors to reduce the risk of the development of symptoms of a mental health condition”, and was won by 2011 PLAC Award winner, Peninsula Village.

This year, Peninsula Village won for a scrapbooking project organised by leisure and lifestyle manager Paula Newman, which focused on helping residents feel more at home in the facility, get to know each other and interact with local school children.

“The project was targeted at those residents who required a vehicle to get them into their new family,” Ms Newman said.  “[It] provided a way for them to introduce themselves to their new acquaintances and to learn something about them in return.”

Above: Peninsula Village executive care manager Melinda Dempsey, left, and leisure and lifestyle manager Paula Newman with their PLAC Award.

Ms Newman explained how the scrapbooking materials also helped the residents learn about the history of their new group home at Umina on the Central Coast, which executive care manager Melinda Dempsey said had been “built on cupcake stalls, scones and spongecakes about 30 years ago”.

“People begin feeling like home when they get to put their own stamp on it,” Ms Newman said. “They have a better understanding of the home, how it operates and how it began and its development.

“Being able to make something that can be then hung on a wall or displayed on a coffee table also enhances the feeling of being ‘at home’. Then its something they can point out to other residents as something they contributed to the home.”

A Highly Commended citation in the same category went to the Baptist Community Care (BCS) Morvern Gardens Centre in the Blue Mountains, for their ‘Lifelong Learning’ program, which encouraged residents to use the internet and various digital tools to write and publish their own stories.

One Morvern Gardens resident, 103-year-old Betty, described as a “fiesty, zesty young lady”, decided to produce her own exercise video instead, and has apparently even made it to television, on Channel Ten’s The Project.

Above: Donna Dobson, left, and Nellie Campbell from BCS Morvern Gardens with their PLAC Award.

The third category for “strategies to promote the mental health and wellbeing of residents with special needs by increasing protective factors to reduce the risk of the development of symptoms of a mental health condition” was won by another BCS facility, Cooinda Court in north-west Sydney.

Lifestyle coordinator Aimee Green and consulting psychologist Julie Bajic explained their art therapy project, which involved decorating plant pots to grow orchids in, was designed as a cross-cultural activity for the very multicultural group of residents.

Above: Lifestyle coordinator Aimee Green, left, and consultant Julie Bajic explain the PLAC Award-winning art therapy project they ran at BCS Cooinda Court.

The Awards day at Sydney’s Luna Park also included presentations by the University of Sydney’s Associate Professor Yun-Hee Jeon, on a study of dementia care mapping, and Adjunct Professor Ian Forbes from the University of Technology, Sydney, on the design of dementia-specific care facilities. 

The PLAC Awards are held each year by Aged and Community Services NSW and ACT in partnership with Leading Age Services Australia NSW and ACT, and are funded by NSW Health.

Tags: awards-for-excellence, dementia, mental-health, plac,

2 thoughts on “PLAC Awards 2012: Activities to enrich life

  1. What an inspiring day. W need to spread the word about these wondful examples of great care being given to residents.
    This day was a showcase fro why we do the work we do.
    All 29 nominations were awesome.

  2. I agree with you Illana, the work being done by such committed and hard working people with a passion to make a difference to older people in their care is truly inspiring! Congratulations to all them all, they are all winners!

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