Reuben Vella Bray speaks about his role as General Manager of Jasmine Nursing Home in Msida and the amazing results that are being achieved with the introduction of Cognitive Stimulation Therapy [Reuben prefers to use the term ‘Cognitive Activities Therapy’] as a holistic treatment for patients with dementia.
The project has been terrific with evident results
Old photos recognition therapy
Reuben refers to patients born in the 1920s and before that.
When they arrive at the home, most of them have with their belongings a treasured photo album or pictures from their holy communion, family weddings, days by the seaside and other events during their lifetime. They get a lot of pleasure from showing these photos and sharing their memories.
This activity encourages patients to stimulate old memories by referring to the photos and sharing personal anecdotes. Many interesting stories emerge, for example their memories of the war and how people rushed to Valletta when the convoy arrived during World War II. This therapy takes place on a one-to-one basis and it reignites old memories and leads to story building.
Purposeful activity enables residents to enjoy a better quality of life and gives them a sense of belonging.
The residents are encouraged to paint something associated with their memories. When they paint and they are relaxed, they start to talk about their activity and memories associated with it
Reuben recalls how some time ago a patient painted a cooking pot and this lead to her sharing a recipe of the special way she liked making Maltese Widow’s Soup [Soppa tal-armla].
Psycho-Drama and Music Work shops
Music helps a lot in cases of dementia. More story building takes place during one-to-one workshops where the patients are encouraged to improvise and play-act a topic of their choice, then they improvise and play act different roles which are recorded and then replayed so that they can watch the recording and comment if they wish.
Reuben says that residents are motivated with regular gentle exercises and he also encourages movement by organising ‘sports days’. The winner is usually presented with an award during a get-together ‘ceremony’.
Dog Petting Therapy
Trained dogs are brought to the home and the residents are encouraged to pet them. They pet the dogs, make a connection with them and enjoy the unconditional love that pets are able to provide. This stirs a lot of emotion in the residents.
there is a resident in the home who has not spoken for a couple of years but with the help of dog petting therapy you could today have a conversation with him.
Residents benefit from celebrations throughout the year.
Recently a visit by local children during Halloween for ‘Trick or Treat’ proved to be very successful and the residents enjoyed the company of the children and the feeling of connecting with them.
Adopt a grandparent
Reuben has recently launched a scheme ‘adopt a granny or grandpa’.
‘There are residents who have relatives who visit them as much as twice or three times a day and those who have no one around to visit them.
Reuben promises that we will talk about this project during his next visit’.
My thoughts about our chat
It is hard for those with dementia to connect and in general people may feel awkward and tend not to engage with them as dementia sufferers may appear reluctant to participate.
With cognitive stimulation therapy, residents begin to relate to one another and activities are fun. Laughter is heard and connections are made. A nursing home is not just a place that offers physical care to residents. The ultimate aim of the nursing home is to make residents feel comfortable, help them to interact and to have fun whilst enouraging them to enjoy the company of those around them. It is all about making a difference and giving them a quality lifestyle.
Lea interviews Reuben Vella Bray, General Manager of Jasmine Nursing Home
To watch Reuben's interview in Maltese, click here Photograpy: Gino Galea Floral arrangements by Brian Camillieri at Warda Flower Shop Qormi Lea thanks Paradise Zone, Ange by Maria Bonavia and Flormar