Archives : 2012 : March
Today’s blog is a continuation from last weeks Bring on the Green! Horticulture and Therapy. Cathi Lamoreux, CCC/SLP – an Infinity Rehab Director of Rehab – oversees rehabilitation services for several therapy departments in the Spokane, WA area. Cathi also has a certificate in Horticultural Therapy and is always finding ways to integrate creative therapy techniques to better suit individual patients. Recently, she has introduced horticulture into her sessions.
It isn’t really hard to figure out how to incorporate healthy gardening and nature activities into your practice. As with any activity, the hard part is often the prep prior to the session, accessibility, having the time to gather supplies and set up the activity, engaging others to help with transport, clean up and the list goes on.
I find that the pressures of productivity often cause us to become less creative and to stick with our tried and true exercises and activities. It isn’t that we don’t want to introduce something new or more creative, it is just that there isn’t a great deal of time to even think up something fun, meaningful and unique.
To inspire you to make the effort, here are a few benefits of gardening activities:
• Exercise the eyes through visual scanning, seeing near and far, and improving special relationships
• Exercise hands, fingers, arms and upper body
• Motivate the resident to walk, stoop, bend, reach and maintain balance
• Gives mild to moderate exercise in coordination, strength, stamina and physical activity when frequently nothing else will
• Gives enormous pleasure through the senses; seeing, smelling, feeling, tasting and hearing
• Motivates residents to use adaptive equipment as needed
• Provides pleasurable physical activity for those with physical disabilities or sensory impairments who wish to enjoy gardening in any setting
• Increases orientation
• Exercises the attention span
• Gives practice in following directions
• Exercises the mind in terms of memory, logic and safety judgment
• Increases interest in gardening and the natural world
• Teaches new skills and techniques in horticulture
• Stimulates understanding such abstract concepts as time, growth, death and change
• Gives greater awareness of living things around us
• Promotes interaction by providing a common interest to discuss
• Improves social skills, self-esteem and confidence
• Gives practice in expressing opinions, formulating descriptions, asking questions, and exploring our sense of humor
• Helps residents learn more effective work attitudes and behaviors
• Motivates residents to work cooperatively with other people as a team
• Promotes healthy interdependence
• Lets residents explore horticulture as a hobby
• Lends itself to many social activities; clubs, garden socials, contests, special meals, cultural celebrations and parties
• Gives reason to go on field trips and getting to know the community better; garden-related businesses, greenhouse, nurseries, botanical gardens, parks and recreational gardens
• Increases self-esteem
• Provides opportunities to relieve tension, frustration and aggression
• Promotes interest and enthusiasm for the future
• Provides opportunity for creativity and self-expression
• Success-oriented activity builds a “can-do” attitude
• Satisfies some of the client’s needs to be nurturing and caring
• Enhanced skills for greater independence
• Lifts the spirits of those who have little sense of purpose or hope through isolation and loss due to illness, accident, disease process, retirement or bereavement
Here is a list of some great ideas that will help you get started with bringing horticulture into your therapy sessions:
• Planting seeds for fast growing plants such as wheat grass, marigolds
• Flower arranging while reminiscing about past gardens
• Take a bird walk and ID birds (keep count, discuss habitat, note different colors)
• Read seed & nursery catalogs – find your favorite flower and tell why
• Plant indoor bulbs – amaryllis, paperwhites, hyacinths
• Make centerpieces for the DR tables or a resident’s room
• Tomato tasting
• Cooking with herbs
• Using herbs as aromatherapy
• ID cones
• Plant a container with colorful annuals and/or vegetables on a patio where it can be viewed
• Watering and weeding of containers and/or gardens
• Garden mobiles
• Garden Party
• Plant trivia – hold “did you know” sessions, challenge residents to recall one piece of trivia and tell their tablemates or roommates and report back the next day
• Make herbal or lavender pillows
• Herbs – Growing and cooking with herbs
• Make holiday napkin rings using vines, leaves and dried flowers
• Water indoor plants
• Make painted rocks
• Make plant labels for plants in the garden and/or containers
• Recite poetry in the garden
• Make Tussie Mussies
• Valentine’s Day crafts
• Watch a gardening show or video and ask/answer questions
• Tend bird feeders
• Make a water garden
• Watch butterflies
• Match pictures of flowers, birds and/or butterflies to the real thing
• Make potato prints
• Order spring bulbs from catalogs
Being there when we see a breakthrough smile of someone who is depressed, watch for the first time when someone stands following an injury, or hear an aphasic resident speak makes it all worthwhile. Breaking out of our routines and trying something new is also rewarding as a therapist and reinforces why chose to do what we do.
Today’s blog comes from the desk of Cathi Lamoreux, CCC/SLP – an Infinity Rehab Director of Rehab. Cathi oversees rehabilitation services for several therapy departments in the Spokane, WA area. She is always finding ways to integrate creative therapy techniques to better suit individual patients. Recently, she has introduced horticulture into her sessions.
What is so important about the color green? The color green helps decrease stress when people are in strange, unfamiliar environments. Adding a plant to a new apartment or home, or a resident’s room helps decrease stress. In addition, a research study proved that looking at a green scene reduces fear and anger, lowers blood pressure, heart rate and tension in just three minutes with no negative side effects. Who would have thought that one little plant could do all of that? No wonder that mother nature cloaked the world in a sea of green.
We are hardwired to connect to nature. We didn’t start out living in houses, driving our cars, working inside a building. Humans lived on the land – slept, ate, worked, hunted. We were outdoor people who have gradually moved indoors. It is a revealing time study if you keep track for a week of the time you spend indoors, even if you are a person who is active outdoors at any time of the year.
What about the people with whom we work? How often do they get outdoors? How often do they have the opportunity to smell the roses, touch a leaf, or admire a vista? How often do we bring the outdoors in?
We are always challenged to look for a different way to motivate our residents, encourage them to reach just a bit further, initiate movement, cognitively engage, maintain attention long enough to benefit from exercise, and regain a sense of control.
As people move through the continuum of care, they gradually give up many of their leisure activities. How many times have you had a conversation with someone who laments not being able to participate in past pleasures? I often use the term “new normal” with my residents when we are having that conversation. It is one thing to validate the loss and another to do something about it.
I am working right now with a resident who was living in his own home in our retirement community. He is experiencing early stages of Alzheimer’s and was becoming increasingly unsafe in his home. A fall landed him in the hospital and then in our skilled nursing facility. His family took the opportunity to close up his home and help him move into an assisted living apartment. Although, he was upset to leave his home, he acknowledged his need for assistance and has actually flourished in his new apartment, surrounded by friends in a familiar setting.
He is known in the retirement community as the person who always had the first ripe tomatoes! He can explain in great detail how he planted them in containers on his patio, tied them up to the post, positioned them for just the right sunshine, fertilized, watered and nurtured them to harvest. He talks about his tomato growing days in the past tense. But, why? What a wonderful opportunity to use something he loved to do therapeutically.
We can walk the grounds to locate the best place for his tomato containers considering the variables of sun, safety, accessibility; determine who to approach for permission to use common space; browse catalogs for the different types of tomato seeds; develop a list of needed materials; work on a timeline for planting; problem solve the purchase of plants and materials; do the planting; develop a checklist to keep track of watering and fertilizing needs; maybe even take pictures of the various stages of growth and keep a journal; and, finally, enjoy the fruits of his labors. How awesome is that?
The timeline for this project is obviously much longer than a normal span of time I would spend with a resident in therapy. But, part of the activity can also be to engage other people in the project. How about activities, family, friends? All can be brought on board and help to see it succeed.
Many facilities have accessible outdoor spaces, raised beds, good seating, pathways, trees and foundation plantings. Do you use those assets therapeutically? Are they safe, in good repair, and accessible? Are the areas covered from intense sun? Can they be seen from the windows? Can family and friends use them during visits? Are there formal and informal activities held outdoors?
What does the facility look like inside? Are there live plants? Are residents encouraged to have plants in their rooms? Does the staff have plants in their offices? Are there good viewing windows for someone to be able to sit and look outside? Is there the opportunity to touch, smell and even taste plants?
Access to nature truly does provide purposeful, constructive activity that is valued by society and involves both mind and body. It is our job, as therapists, to open our eyes to the vast possibilities the natural world offers and to bring on the green!
Part Two of “Bring on the Green” will appear as next week’s Infinity Rehab blog post. It will cover gardening activity benefits and suggestions for incorporating nature into your practice.
Over the 13 years that Infinity Rehab has been in operation, the company has donated to a multitude of causes and organizations; ranging from local food banks, woman’s shelters and State Healthcare Associations. Mike Billings, PT, MS, CEEAA, President of Infinity Rehab, says it typically boils down to the employees own charitable motivations when it comes to giving. “We’ve donated over $13,000 to the Alzheimer’s Association over the past 4 to 5 years … often on behalf of our employees or clients.”
Cultivating and promoting a spirit of giving is rooted in the values of Infinity Rehab. “Integrity above all else” and “Passion for the quality of people’s lives” were written into the company’s values over a decade ago. As the organization expanded rapidly from a small group of therapy departments in Northern Oregon to becoming a leader of sub-acute rehab services in ten states, it became imperative to identify creative ways to continue its philanthropic mission.
During the Holiday season, Infinity Rehab employees have the opportunity to choose between receiving a gift, or making a donation to a charity. According to Holly Kandra, MPH, SPHR, Director of Human Resources, a large percentage of the 1,600 employees typically choose to make a donation. “It is heartening to see those figures, to know that our therapists are so willing to give back to the communities they serve,” says Kandra.
“We are a consistent sponsor for our State Associations’ educational offerings, as well as on behalf of our clients who raise funds for special projects, capital improvements, and charity care.” says Donna Mueller, Vice President of Business Development. Mueller estimates in-kind donations from Infinity Rehab total $45,000 annually. This includes training services provided to client facilities and materials purchased for charitable events. Mueller also noted that in lieu of giving gifts to clients, a donation to a charity is made in the client’s name.
The continual desire to give back – whether it is in-kind, or a donation made on behalf of an employee or client – has strengthened the bond of Infinity Rehab to each community it provides therapy services. Billings feels that this bond is exactly why the spirit of giving is so persistent amongst the company’s therapists.
“None of us would be in this industry if we didn’t deeply care about those we serve. As an organization we contribute to the industry on a daily basis through the actions of our professional associates. However, our organization is made up of individuals with the desire to volunteer and contribute philanthropically.”