What does the Lifestyle Department do here at Vacenti? This is a question that has been echoed across all our Homes and a question heard and answered many times by our staff. The quick answer written by our team at Portofino is that they assist our residents to lead their best lives, through emotional support, social interaction, mental stimulation and physical activities. Is that all? Sounds easy, however, there may be a little more to it. I hope to answer this question in the next three minutes of your time. Having spent the month of May with the Lifestyle teams around our six locations in Brisbane, I was given the rare opportunity to see what our Lifestyle coordinators and assistants do for our residents.
Sitting at a memorial service today at Portofino, I was reminded that life is short. As a poem was read out about the dash on our tombstones, symbolising the time spent here between our date of birth to the date of death. The poem illustrates that the dash symbolises not just what we did but who we are and how we impacted those around us. I realised that each stage is equally important and impacts those around us, we never stop having a purpose and we never cease to matter even after we are gone.
Vacenti as an aged care provider may deal with the concluding chapters in a person’s life but these years are no less significant than any other period of time. This was shown on all the faces of our staff; demonstrated through the respect they held for those whom they came to know. Lifestyle is not just a job, it is not just work, it is love. They create a community through relationships, giving purpose and meaning to those who reside in our Homes by providing person-centred care.
Research has shown that to manage behavioural and psychological symptoms of aging and those living with dementia, a toolbox of interventions is vital. As our population ages, older adults are increasing and by 2030 it is expected that 19% of the world’s population will be 65 and older. Therefore, the way we approach an older person’s journey through this time becomes increasingly more important. The Lifestyle team and the activities they provide are not merely for entertainment, they are a toolbox for care, the activities are person-centred, unique, and targeted to meet the physical, cognitive, social and emotional needs of every person who calls Vacenti home.
Careful planning is used to create activities each month to suit the cohort in each Home. Singing and dance, art, reading, active minds group, community engagement, socialisation, pet visits, interest groups, coffee and chats, games, puzzles, and gardening just to name a few are offered. Each activity is used to stimulate or relax, improve mood, activate long-term memories and stimulate muscles and minds, then adapted to every individual. It means those who come alongside our residents in lifestyle, come to know each resident very well, understanding their needs, wants and feelings and ensuring all that they do is pleasurable and voluntarily participated in.
So, what does the lifestyle team actually do? They come to know and love our Residents and provide activities that support and promote their daily well-being through care and respect. They provide a holistic approach by looking after their social, emotional, physical and mental states through the forming of relationships and communities. They walk in the front line of aged care, in the trench’s day in and day out with their hearts on their sleeves. They stand along with all our staff who provide care in different ways, they become the heart of Vacenti, and it becomes one of the reasons why “we care like family”.