One of the most important skills as a Creative Companion is utilising those magical pieces of information that are given to us, no matter how small. It could be information on anything, whether about places, work, hobbies or interests. We can try and utilise even the smallest snippets of knowledge about a person, so that we can create unique ways of bringing out the best from people and helping them to ‘shine’.
A good example of this was when I was visiting Clare. By this point, Clare was sleepy a lot of the time. She was content with a hand to hold (and she had a surprisingly strong grip) as she slept peacefully, or for me to gently brush her hair. But, on this day, I was taken completely by surprise – she was wide awake and sitting up in bed when I arrived. Clare told me that she would like to visit the beach! This was, unfortunately, not a possibility due to her lack of mobility and the fact that, if she were moved, she would soon become pained and distressed. But, equally, it was going to be hard to deny such a request, and a rare moment such as this should never be wasted. I needed to capture it and act before it was gone. Admittedly, I was unprepared; ideally, I would have had shells, a tape of the sound of the sea… but I had nothing. However, it was a complete spur of the moment opportunity, and I was adamant that it wasn’t going to be wasted.
I decided to use a visualisation technique. So, we started off by discussing what kind of beach we were going to visit: a sandy one or a pebbly one? Clare chose both, as she wanted to collect shells but also to feel the sand between her toes. We discussed how the tide would be coming in, so we could be chased by the waves as they rolled in. How they would catch us with their icy touch and we would laugh in surprise at the water’s chilly bite. How it had the ability to take our breath away. We imagined the smell of the salty sea, and the sound of seagulls riding the skies above, with maybe a brass band playing, which she remembered from when she was a child. Clare giggled and said that having an ice cream was a must. It had to have a flake in it, which she wouldn’t be able to resist eating first! All the while, we would feel the warmth of the sun on our faces. To make the experience as real as possible, I tried to include all the senses to help create this story with her. To hear Clare’s childlike giggles was so magical. I believe that, in the moment, I had given her a sense of freedom and escape. In her mind, she was not in her room, but on the beach with the wind in her hair and the sea air in her lungs. As humans, we all need contact and a connection with the outdoors, and I hoped that I brought as much as I could of that to Clare.
The next time I visited, I tried to recreate that moment again by bringing in some shells and stones. They still had a faint smell of the sea, and you could hear the waves in the shells if you brought them up to your ears, but Clare was sleepy and not as focused as she had been before. I was so thankful that we had captured that time. Although she may not remember it now, in that moment, we created a magical day.
If you want to read more about the role of a Creative Companion and how they can offer help and support, read our blog ‘It’s the Simple Things: The Role of a Creative Companion’.