I don’t know about your experience, but it seems most programs nowadays have an antiquated relic called, “Day Training.” I think Day Training first got its start in programs for seniors. I’m sure you have seen nursing homes with a group of seniors sitting around playing games or singing songs, attempting to actively engage residents in some type of activity. And maybe in that setting, there is some usefulness to such a program, but to carry that format into other types of programs seems very ineffective.
First I would assume that seniors have most likely reached retirement age and are no longer working. After many years of living and working it might be time for a break. Plus, by nature an older person may not be as active as their younger counterparts. But let’s carry that theme into programs that don’t have their focus on the senior population. Residential Support programs for people with brain injuries typically have a diverse range of ages and cognitive abilities. Each person has unique needs in terms of stimulation and productivity. So where did we ever get the idea such a unique population would need to be constantly entertained with games and outings and fun, fun, fun? My guess is the carryover from those senior programs mentioned earlier.
The reality is that “real life” does not involve fun and games all day, but instead a need to be useful and produce. So by switching the focus from “being entertained” to a focus on productivity, we perhaps unknowingly offer our residents access to a greater need being met. At Intellegis LLC, we have found that a productive, useful resident is a happy resident. Does that mean there is no fun? Of course not. Instead, fun is blended in with necessary things getting accomplished just as it works for the rest of the world. One of our residents has taken responsibility for the landscaping and lawn care. He owns that responsibility and works hard to make sure it is the best. And what do you suppose happens every time someone comments on how beautiful the lawn is? Our resident beams with pride and receives the satisfaction that comes from working hard.
A better approach to the old Day Training model is to design a program that involves work related activities, depending upon the person’s cognitive level and then reserve the fun activities for the evenings and the weekends. This approach more closely replicates “real life” and offers our residents the potential to remain both productive and “feeling” useful. Now it is important that the activities designed are not just busy-work, but rather work that is both needed and benefits the group as a whole. Busy-work would be an insult to a person’s dignity and well being. Surely there are enough needs in the larger group homes to offer each person their share of the overall contribution. So, be it setting the table for dinner or mowing the lawn, work has its own reward far exceeding its requirements in terms of time and energy.
It’s time to rethink the old Day Training model and come up with programs that more closely replicate real life experiences!