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Long-Term Care Outreach

Some people moving into later-stage dementia require the services provided by assisted living or skilled care facilities. However, too often our friends residing in these facilities feel isolated from the wider community. The Fox Valley Memory Project (FVMP) is dedicated to meeting the changing needs of persons with dementia regardless of where they live. Therefore, we provide opportunities for long-term care residents to continue to connect with the wider community through their expressions of creativity. This gives residents a sense of accomplishment and educates community members about their creative potential. Because budget restrictions often prevent these facilities from offering creative engagement programs, the FVMP has pursued grants to fund staff training in innovative programs for people with more advanced dementia who live in long-term care.

Early in 2013, the FVMP sponsored poet Gary Glazner, founding director of the Alzheimer's Poetry Project as he trained staff from five facilities in using poetry for joyous, creative engagement. Later that spring, we brought residents who had participated in the poetry programs to the Thompson Community Center for a "poetry party." Their families and friends came and observed how Gary worked with them to create several delightful poems.

In the fall of 2013, staff from nine facilities, as well as FVMP staff and volunteers, were trained in the TimeSlips Creative Storytelling method. In February, 2014, residents of the facilities, family members friends, memory cafe' participants, and many community members of all ages gathered at the Thompson Community Center to experience TimeSlips Town. Each facility created a "building" based on one of the stories composed by their residents.

In spring, 2015, Tom Gill of Rhythm for Unity (Milwaukee) trained staff at seven care residences in leading drumming circles for persons with dementia. Some wonderful volunteers (including some of our participants with dementia) made and decorated 200 drums that were distributed to residents. In June, 2015, over 150 people gathered at Thompson Community Center to hear the residents’ drumming as well as a musical program by our “On a Positive Note” chorus which consists of memory café participants and care partners. Families, friends, and community members had a great time enjoying the talents of our friends with dementia.

We hope to continue to secure funding to support long-term care staff seeking new ways of engaging residents with dementia; they benefit so much from the opportunity to use their imaginations and share their creative output with the community.