I have been visiting Maggie weekly for just under a year. She is 93 and has outlived all her close family. As I got to know her, she shared with me the emotional story of the premature passing of her two children, and the loss of her husband to leukaemia shortly after his retirement. The Nursing home provide Maggie with outstanding care, but she has very few visitors and being confined to her bed limits her contact with other residents and her ability to engage in the activities programme.
During our visits we are never short of things to talk about, whether it be current affairs, or treasured memories and fascinating life stories. We often talk about the different places she lived throughout her life. I use the internet to find old photos of places she mentions, or take photos of things that I think she might enjoy such as the knitted post-box topper which was on the postbox outside her previous home.
Maggie and her husband were keen gardeners and would often spend their holidays walking in the Lake District and exploring the countryside. With this in mind, I try to bring nature into our visits. Sometimes I take Maggie a bunch of cut flowers and encourage her give me advice how best to arrange them. We planted an Amarylis bulb in a pot and watched it shoot up and bloom. Last spring, I photographed wild flowers, which I collated into a ‘guess the flower’ quiz. Maggie was brilliant at recalling the names of the wild flowers, so I before my next visit I picked some for us try flower pressing.
For advent, I filled a hanging pocket advent calendar - because you are never too old for a chocolate a treat for each day! When Maggie mentioned that she had always loved different cheeses, I jumped at the opportunity to ask if I could organise a special ‘cheese and cracker supper’ for us to have together. Maggie was keen on the idea, and it was a great success. We’ll can do it again soon!
With all the positives, it would only be right to mention that not all my ideas have been completely successful! Maggie can be reluctant to try new things, especially if they involve technology. Sadly she has turned away from audiobooks, DVDs and a great online platform for social groups and events called ‘Vibrant Communities’. But I simply adapt to using technology behind the scenes before I enter the room!
Over the past year, I have learnt that for Maggie, my role as a Wellbeing Companion is predominantly about the simple but vital act of providing trusted company - but I am always on the lookout for new ideas to bring extra-special moments of joy and further enhance Maggie’s overall quality of life.
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This blog was written by Vicky; one of our wonderful Wellbeing Companions. The name of the person she visits has been changed. If you think someone you care about would benefit from companionship at home or in a care home, please contact Alise: 07730 070289 or firstname.lastname@example.org