Spark of Life Walking Club (Community story)

Community story

By Jeni Winslow, Maurice Zeffert Home WA © dementiacareinternational

The Maurice Zeffert Home (INC) in Western Australia regularly runs Spark of Life Club Programs. Spark of Lifeweb_walking_club_singing__dancing.jpg Co-ordinator Jeni Winslow reports on a new adaptation of the program:

‘We had a wonderful club experience with some of our ‘special care’ residents. As well as the ‘regular’ Spark of Life Clubs, a ‘walking club’ has developed in our facility. We start and finish as per the Spark of Life Club rituals.

We take along a variety of hats for club members to wear – as we go outside we have been using pretty straw hats etc. Today the co-facilitator and I decided to wear crazy fun party hats (like Carmen Miranda hats etc.)and offered these to our club members along with more conventional hats to choose from. The response from everyone we met – staff, visitors and other residents – was amazing. As we walked outside we sang old time songs, laughed and looked at the beautiful trees and flowers and picked lavender.

Today after our outside walk, we spontaneously decided to walk through the Nursing Home and see a few residents – everyone responded so well and this made everyone feel fantastic. We then playfully peeked into the window of the managers office and were rewarded with a big smile, a hug, and a chocolate each.

When we returned to the unit another resident with dementia referred to how happy one of our club members was and said, ‘She really needs it, she’s usually so sad’. What made the difference today to everyone was the spontaneity with the crazy hats; visiting other residents and cheering them up, and seeing the wonderful smiles of everyone we met. My face is aching from so many smiles – it was a simple and very happy experience for all.’ 

November 2008

We had the most wonderful walking club again this afternoon and this time decided to take tambourines and maracas along with us so we could sing AND make music – we called ourselves the ‘Wandering Minstrels’.

We took four residents so we had two each to focus on as we walked. Edwina and I both wore crazy colourful wigs, which set the mood for playfulness and fun – and fun we had! When we visited the Nursing Home this time we told our club members that we were going to cheer up the residents, so our club members felt they had a sense of purpose, felt useful and of worth. We decided to sing to the residents and this ended up with an almost Vaudeville type performance from our two men particularly, as one of them really got into it, singing, dancing and hamming it up. His spirit rubbed off on the others and it was a very lively and energetic (if somewhat out of tune) performance that had us all in stitches. The two residents we had gone to cheer up both really brightened up and had big smiles on their faces (one in particular rarely smiles so this was quite a treat to see).

As we left, the two men both went up to the female resident and shook hands with her and exchanged a very courteous farewell interaction, it was lovely to see. After we had left, we again thanked the club members for cheering the others up and telling them how wonderful it was for them to do that. We had lots of playfulness on the way ‘home’ with swapping of wigs and the club members larking about in a very playful, creative way. It was all wonderful – another happy Spark of Life Club!

Click this link for more information about the Spark of Life Club Program .

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