I love to walk onto the unit where I’m presently working at the end of the day and feel myself surrounded by a familiar sense of people having fun. There is music and laughter and the only difference from my usual life is that my patients are older.
One of the best aspects of the role I have had in the “pop-up” inpatient unit where I work is having the assistance of Child and Youth Counsellors, a Nurse and the Recreation Therapist from the Youth Program sharing the experience with me. When you must quickly become part of a team with people you don’t know, it’s good to see a few familiar faces around you. Like me, these professionals miss our youthful patients and we can share a happy memory when something happens that reminds us of our own program.
Very often adults with mental health problems have forgotten how to be lighthearted and hopeful. All my coworkers from youth, in their new work with adults, have helped their patients to have a sense of hopefulness again.
The Child and Youth Counsellors are working to develop programing for people isolated in their small hospital rooms. In the short time they’ve been working with this program, they have helped one person find a healing exercise routine. Another man in his thirties has been inspired to return to school. Many people are learning new skills: painting and crafts and journaling. When you try something new and realize that you can learn to do that task well, it gives you hope that you can manage other difficult problems. Drawing a reasonable landscape or writing a poem – something the Child and Youth Counsellors have helped adults to do – reminds people that they can learn new skills.
With a Recreation Counsellor from Youth to find supplies, equipment and get people started, Child and Youth Counsellors keep them enthused.
Many of these activities are not new to these adult patients, they are just forgotten from the days when art classes and gym were the most fun things you did in school. As well as Recreation Therapy and Child and Youth Counsellors, it also really helps that there is a Nurse from Youth who knows just what these other professionals do.
When I walk onto the unit at the end of the day and hear music playing while people write or paint or do crafts, it feels like quiet time on the Youth Unit when everyone is engaged in some fun activity. Everyone needs time in their day for fun and I hope these older patients will keep this habit after they leave hospital.
(This image is taken from a great article called Colours of Hope.)