Featured Site, December 2016 – Wesley Enhanced Living

November 29, 2016

Molly Sahner (OMA Facilitator Class of 2015) began training OMA volunteers in January of 2016 to work with residents of Wesley Enhanced Living in Doylestown, PA. Even though the program is still in its first year of operation, they have already had tremendous success.

Wesley Enhanced Living was going to start their third session at the time of our interview. Some favorite art projects done so far include collage with tissue paper, ink blots, and foil ball stamping. OMA artwork from the first two sessions at the site was showcased at a museum through ARTZ Philadelphia. Molly mentioned she is a board member for ARTZ Philadelphia, “which is entirely focused on providing arts and cultural experiences for people with dementia.” Caregivers and people with dementia visit different museums and talk about the artwork displayed.

When asked about advice she would give to new OMA facilitators, Molly said “keep believing in the process as a means of addressing preconceived notions about dementia.”

Molly also shared a few challenges she had to overcome in order to get OMA started at Wesley Enhanced Living. “Politics of convincing everyone involved, from administration to nursing staff, of the value of the program because it calls for greater commitment from everyone than your average activities program. So getting that buy in is a challenge, but well worth it.

“For me, it was very rewarding to develop a trusting relationship over the 8+ week time period with my partner and to see the positive reaction she had to the OMA program.” -OMA Volunteer

One unique aspect of the OMA program at Wesley Enhanced Living is the variety of groups tapped to serve as volunteers in different capacities.

“I have volunteers who are high school students, who are local, and then I have volunteers who are from the community at large. I [also] have volunteers who are residents in the building. Right now, I have three residents. I like to say that my volunteers range from 16 to 92 [years old]. One of the things we’re talking about is finding the right spot for people to volunteer […] there is a challenge when you have somebody who wants to volunteer who may not, because their own memory is impacted, be able to operate fully as a partner. I have developed a range of different volunteer opportunities. Obviously you could volunteer as a partner, but I’ve also developed spots where people can volunteer to help develop the art projects or to help do organizational things. I’ll do playtime sometimes and invite residents to come to playtime so that they’re able to be involved and volunteer, but not necessarily take on the responsibility of being a partner every week […] If anybody wanted to contribute, I wanted to find a spot for them. But it’s also been very helpful.”

“It’s just beautiful!” – OMA artist after seeing her completed artwork matted

Volunteers help provide constructive feedback about the art projects. One night last Spring, Molly hosted an art night to have volunteers come and try the projects she created.

​“We ordered a pizza and did a bunch of projects. I had four different projects out and I had the volunteers do multiple projects, but they also took the instruction sheets with them, both the sheet that gets handed out at the session and the sheet that helps the facilitator prepare, and they made notes on it of things that they thought needed more attention or I should point out to the volunteers, (like) a tip they could use. They gave me feedback directly on the sheets. We talked about it also, but they also made notes as they went through the process of anything that they felt would be helpful. I’ve also done it with my co-workers. Just saying ‘hey, could you stay late for a minute and help try this out?’”

“One of my favorite quotes was one of the residents saying, ‘I don’t know why we spent so much money sending my daughter to art school. She could have just come to OMA!’”

Molly and volunteers at Wesley Enhanced Living are looking forward to opportunities to expand OMA in their local area.

​“One of the things we’re working on now is [with] the Michener Museum. [The museum] had come to see my OMA program and they’re starting their own OMA program. They started their program this fall so we’re hoping to work the scheduling so that volunteers can go back and forth between the two sites, and we can really support each other. I think that’s neat that we have [OMA] here in our care community but then the volunteers can be involved through the museum also. That’s in the works, it’s not finalized yet, but just partnering with other community sites.”

At the end of the interview, Molly had to get going so she could begin the next OMA session!

Congratulations to Wesley Enhanced Living for being our December Site of the Month.

Scripps OMA

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