A cleaner way to live with dementia at Bupa Donvale

Washing dishes is not a chore that most people usually look forward to. But, for Bupa Donvale residents Thelma Vandendreisen and Barry Stagoll, who are living with dementia, it is a therapeutic past time improving their health and care.

And according to a recent study conducted by Florida State University, they are not alone. The research revealed that doing simple, everyday tasks like washing dishes could help encourage a person’s state of mindfulness, which has also been linked to improved well-being and reducing levels of stress.

Although anecdotal, Bupa Donovale’s Recreational Activities Officer Pauline Higgs also found an improvement in Thelma and Barry’s mood and said that she is always looking for ways to prevent the loss of identity that can appear in a person living with dementia.

Thelma wanted to wash dishes and I could see it was important to her, so I got some clean plates from the kitchen and I could instantly tell that it gave her a sense of real satisfaction.
Recreational Activities Officer Pauline Higgs

“Interestingly enough, Barry was walking by and hung around Thelma and that’s when I asked if he’d like to dry the dishes, which he was more than happy to do and even asked for more when we’d finished,” she said.

Bupa’s Head of Dementia Services, Margaret Ryan said people living with dementia can often feel as though they’re a burden to those that care for them but purpose is key to helping them live a better life.

“Finding a task like washing the dishes that they can manage easily will give a person with dementia a sense of purpose and keep them active as well,” Ms Ryan said.

“Providing opportunities for our residents to participate in purposeful activities is part of our person-centred approach to care. It is part of our ethos to treat each person as the unique individuals that they are and to engage them with the dignity and respect they deserve,” she said.

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