Somatic Revelations Ty Tedmon-Jones' blog devoted to information sharing, professional practices and diversity awareness & multiculturalism in the fields of Dance/Movement Therapy and Professional Counseling
The Dance to DTR Blair Cronin's blog on the wonders, trials, and tribulations of becoming a certified dance/movement therapist in California
If you happened to be watching the season finale of Blunt Talk on StarZ on October 24 and wondered what that colorful stretchy dance prop with arms was that the nurses were using with the patients in a seated “dance therapy” group ~ well, wonder no more. That thing was an Octaband®.
You can see a link to the video of the Octaband being used here.
Dance for Connection is my new website which went live earlier this summer. As with all things technical, I am experiencing a steep learning curve as far as how to post new blog articles, but from now on that is where my new articles will be posted.
Depending upon your preferred social media sites, you can follow us in a number of additional places. Octaband has a new Youtube channel with a number of videos of the Octaband with kids and older adults. Watching them can provide you with additional ideas for how to use the Octaband successfully.
Octaband's FB page can be found here. In a recent post, you can have a behind-the-scenes look to learn a bit more about how the Octaband is made, marketed and delivered. If you like the Octaband, please LIKE OUR FACEBOOK PAGE, as that helps build customer confidence. And if you do not like the Octaband, please write and let us know why. We would truly love your photos and your stories. After all, the Octaband is all about the people who use it.
Dance for Connection's FB is here. You'll find quick updates to Dance for Connection and news about dance/movement therapy.
I'm having fun with Pinterest as well. So far, it's under my name, Donna Newman-Bluestein. You'll find boards there about dance/movement therapy, dance and dementia, dementia, creativity, creative arts activities, dance, etc.
One of our awesome summer interns set Octaband up with an Instagram account as well.
The New Mexican mountains are vast and beautiful, far beyond my capacity to capture adequately with my iPhone camera. Traveling in the Southwest desert reminds me of a summer many years ago when I was studying Creative Dance with Barbara Mettler in Tucson, AZ. It was my 2nd summer studying with Mettler, and she was not in a very good mood. The saving grace was hanging out with fellow students, spending free time with Norma Canner and Elizabeth McKim. The image of this native American woman below and her expansive gesture from this poster in the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center in Albuquerque reminds me of a well-known image of Norma Canner in another poster, the cover of the dvd of Norma's life and work, A Time to Dance.
Spending the day in this part of the world, I am greatly inspired by the art of Georgia O"Keefe, some of the fabulous rugs by weavers such as Esther Silentman, pottery by Nampeyo, and Apache basketry in the shop called Native Jackets on the Square, and the photography of the Southwest and African safaris by R. David Marks.
Norma Canner loved the Southwest. Her clothing style was influenced by Native peoples. She loved dancing outside in nature and even more so in her later years.
In this photo you can just see my head peaking out to the left of Myron Sharaf, biographer of Wilhelm Reich in what is considered the definite biography, Fury On Earth.
On this, the last day of Creative Arts Theray week 2015, I feel so very blessed to have followed my path to becoming and practicing as a dance/movement therapist these past 36 years. The arts can be a way to allow the powerful energy received from communing with Mother Nature to flow through one.
I've heard it said that the devil is in the detail
God is in the detail.
Thus it behooves us to make our choices wisely. Dance is a moment by moment choice in details brought from the choreographer's vision to dancers' actions.
If you are in the Cambridge, MA area, come see Back Pocket Dancers perform in our infrequent public performance, Thursday, April 23, 7:30pm at the Multicultural Arts Center, 41 Second St. E. Cambridge. Here's an image from our latest rehearsal.
Our concert, HERE AT LAST, was awarded a grant from the Cambridge Arts Council. The grant also supports an invitation-only matinee (April 22) we're doing for elders from various Cambridge elder venues! Both shows will be terrific and will be premiering a new dance choreographed by Molly Hess as well as other dances from our repertoire. Don't miss it!
By Ginny Mazur and Lance Chapman with Cindy Allard
When we walk onto Olmsted Place at Goddard House, despite the many challenges of memory loss, we find that the residents there are active, engaged and supportive of each other. These may not be the typical qualities that many of us associate with dementia. We’ve seen how much the ability levels of individuals with memory loss are impacted, when caregivers change their responses to them in supporting and empowering ways. But how do they do it? What is that certain something?
Lance Chapman and Ginny Mazur sat down with Cindy Allard, RT, BSN, Olmsted Program Director, to have her offer some deeper explanations of how this engaging and supportive environment gets created. We tapped into Cindy’s wisdom which comes from her 30 years of experience in this field. She offered us an overview of the many considerations that go into planning programs, hiring and training staff and developing this memory support environment which then allows Olmsted Place residents to act and feel more like themselves. Cindy passionately offered her explanations: “We follow the habilitation model of meeting our residents wherever they are in their minds and emotions. In this model every interaction is considered an activity, part of the program. Meaningful, purposeful programs that connect with emotions are the foundation of care and, they are the spice of life that proclaim, “Feel good, have fun and live in the moment!”
“I’ve been working with older adults for over 30 years after getting a degree in recreational therapy. Over the years, I’ve worked in the full continuum of geriatric and Alzheimer’s care. Several years ago, I returned to school for a BSN in nursing. At that juncture, I truly felt that the people with Alzheimer’s, with whom I was working, needed and deserved more. I earned my nursing degree to broaden and deepen my work so that I could fully understand the needs of the whole person (mind, body and emotions) and have that knowledge translate into the high quality of care and programming residents experience each day on Olmsted Place.”
“We need to form trusting emotional and physical connections with Olmsted residents. We do this by responding to their invitation for us to engage with them in their space and world. It’s important not to initiate, but instead to wait to enter their personal space with their permission. When we wait for them, we earn their trust. That trust helps us develop a flow to each day on Olmsted Place. From early morning until 8 p.m. we are guiding people to and from activities, responding to all that we know about the individual. Groups begin with invitations to participate, introductions and greetings. There is a transition phase as we begin each program which needs to be engaging and focused without too many distractions or too much stimuli. People are welcomed by name and referenced by what’s important to each individual. It’s essential to know everyone and take time for that process of reintroduction many times each day. From there, we can emphasize shared connections and relationships that engage and build community.”
“During each program or activity, residents are asked questions in a failure-free atmosphere and allowed to experience the success of that. This allows residents to regain confidence and self-esteem which so often is lost with dementia. Olmsted staff members are constantly assessing the right balance of stimulation to maximize group participation. Staff, then, remind each resident of how much they enjoyed a past similar experience to have them evoke those emotions again, which frames the personal, emotional context for participation and their connection to their life. This technique offers structure, comfort and familiarity but always with a flexible back-up plan. If the group conversation is going in a direction all are interested in, there’s no need to intervene even if it goes off on a tangent – treasure those moments of full engagement.” “At the end of each program we leave plenty of time for a recap of what has been covered and learned. This wrap-up phase also helps to wind-down and guide participants to the next activity so they do not feel idle, bored orlost. Anxiety, worry and pacing come out of boredom, out of not getting one’s needs for engagement met. When a person’s needs are addressed those behaviors occur far less frequently.”
“Finally, I believe this approach works so well because facilitating these real associations to experiences and preferences support each person being related to and having their needs fully considered. This differs for everyone. If I suggest to you, “Let’s go for tea”, and you’re a coffee drinker, we won’t connect. I’ve really got to know you. Caregivers need to evoke positive emotions that remain intact longer. It is essential for our staff to understand that the people who live on Olmsted are educated adults. Yes, they have memory loss, but in the moment, they can be who they always have been and experience having a continued purpose in life. We focus on what they can still do...on the person that is still there. As Maya Angelou said, “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did but people will never forget how you made them feel.
I heard from Magdalena Schamberger, Chief Executive & Artistic Director of Hearts & Minds of the new documentary style film called Hearts & Minds : Behind the Nose. You can see the film here. The film offers insight into the development of the characters of the clowns as well as the affect of this positive programming. At 18:28, begins the part about Elderflowers. Professor June Andrews, Director, Dementia Services Deveopment Centre, clarifies that what Hearts & Minds clowns do is not just entertain, but more importantly, finds out what's important to the residents.
Andrews also speaks of researchers often measuring the wrong things when trying to the assess the affects of a program on a person with dementia. Even though the person may not remember what they did, they have a sort of happy hangover. I love that description, as it certainly fits my experience. In fact, yesterday, sadly, I had an experience of contributing to a person's cross hangover. When I wasn't looking, a lovely woman had folded up my playlist and I could see the tiniest bit of it peaking out of her pocket. When I playfully asked if I might see what she had there, pointing to her pocket, she immediately became irritated and left the group. She came by after the group was over and although she didn't seem to remember me, she expressed feeling disgruntled and walked away muttering and calling me names. The experience left me curious if a different approach might have worked, or if my usual ignoring is the only best response.
On another UK front, unfortunately Inside Out of Mind, a play by Tanya Myers about the experience of dementia care will be playing in the UK after I am no longer there. The description looks very enticing:
Touching minds and hearts, nurses and patients search for love, rhyme and reason on ‘the ward with no name’. Dancing inside out and outside in, the play moves between multiple realities where time and identity drift apart.
Anything that helps us bridge the worlds between ourselves and those who perceive the world differently would certainly be helpful. And, of course, that would be anyone who isn't us.
One audience member in 2013 wrote: “Compelling performances from a strong cast powerfully invoke understanding of just how important it is to see people with dementia as individuals with rich life experiences. Everyone should see this deeply moving play”.
You can download the flyer here: Download IOOM Flyer If you see the play, please comment or write and let me know what you discovered. I'd love to let people know more.
The Octaband™ is a fun, interactive tool which promotes individuality and group cohesion through movement for people of all ages and abilities. As a dance/movement therapist, Donna Newman-Bluestein was motivated to design the Octaband to stimulate movement in the elderly with dementia. The stretchy material, bright colors, and innovative design stimulate self-expression, spontaneity, and awareness of others. The center circle provides a strong visual focus, and the 5 1/2" hem at the end of each arm allows those with limited grasping ability to participate. Go to www.octaband.com to learn more.