My CBSL placement is at the William Booth Special Care Home. This senior care home is in conjunction with the Salvation Army and their mission statement is: “to provide comprehensive services for the spiritual, physical, emotional, psychological and social well-being of the individual.” * The home provides a wide range of activities for the inhabitants to participate in if they so choose, and if they have no desire to join, they are free to spend time in any of the lovely commons areas playing board/card games, watching TV, or talking with each other. As a volunteer, it is my job to help those who wish to participate in getting where they need to go as well as helping run the activities. At my first volunteering opportunity here on September 30th, I helped clear away their lunch and then set up for a game of Bingo. I followed one of the workers to inform regular bingo players that the game was going on and push their wheelchairs if necessary.
During the bingo, I sat between two women whom I had to help play Bingo by pointing to the squares on their boards as they were called out. It was here that I experienced first hand that Seniors have reduced mobility and fine motor skills. The woman on my right would occasionally place the bingo chips on top of one another so I would move them to the proper spots and continue with the game. It wasn’t that she lacked any intelligence, only that her arms would not always cooperate to put the pieces where she wanted them to go.
This brings me to my second point: I noticed how we will, at times, judge others incapable of doing a task. When this happens, we tend to overcompensate for their perceived inability. I had been told that to help these women, it was my job to place the pieces for the lady on my left and place the chips in the hands of the lady on my right. Not two rounds into the game, they both proved this information wrong. I discovered that the lady to my left could mark her squares on her own if I pointed to the one that was called and gave her the time to do so. On my right, she could pick up the pieces from the container on her own; it was only the chips on the table that she had any trouble grasping. This reminded me of a friend in high school who had been held back from regular classes because it was perceived that she could not keep up, however, the lessons she was taking after where far too slow and unstimulating. I feel as though we as educators do this more often than we would like to think.
I learned a few other things as well in my time there. For example, not everybody who participates in the activities here are residents of the home, many of them live nearby or drive in to visit and join in or have come to visit loved ones and friends. Another example is that seniors have lower immune systems, so we are required to sanitize our hands after leaving every room we touched something in. This prevents the spread of germs.
The last thing that is of note to this blog is that all of these people are very resilient. In a conversation on the way back to her room, one woman talked with me for some time about her family and her travels when she and her husband were young. It was a conversation I enjoyed having with her, and we talked comfortably for nearly thirty minutes past when I was due to leave. The people living here have all gone through good times and hardship alike, they kept going through it all and are still going.
So, my question of the week is how we can help others and ensure that we are not encroaching on their pride or their learning opportunities?