Friday, July 10, 2020

Woodworking and designing a game for LTCH

I have seen shuffleboard made and proposed as a game for Long Term Care Homes. We had trouble finding one of reasonable price and I figured I could make one.

Even when not socially isolated by CoVID, I have always been willing to put in an hour or two outside of work on projects for work. With CoVID, I have been trapped with naught but work friends, work and family. Family is not bad but the same three people all day every day for months can become boring.

And so I have worked on making a set of eight discs and two push poles. The triangular markings on the floor I managed with masking tape. As an LTCH Enchantment Aide, I find masking tape to be as multipurpose and valuable as others find duct tape.

I had one pole finished but, even after drilling the hole first, the wood screw split the pusher in half. Dang it all! Happily, having the experience of making the first one made construction of the second one much faster.

After some basic sanding, I screwed the set on the right together far more carefully.

I probably overthought this. I made eight discs but I knew they were all only 'mostly' round and many had differently shaped bottoms. So I wanted us to be able to make different sets easily. We can play green vs blue, 1-4 vs 5-8, or A-D vs E-H. I congratulate the excellent Jordyndickson for the lettering. I made sorta round discs and she made perfect writing.

So we had two poles, one short and meant for wheelchairs and the other long for standing players, and eight discs. The discs didn't slide well so I used bee's wax and they slid much better.

Here's a handsome guy with the long pole.

Another angle on the pole and pusher (I am sure there is a better term).

In describing another recent project - the Graduation Ceremony - my employers used this phrasing:

the creative Team at The Villa Care Centre from doing something extra special for their Students. Life Enrichment Aide, Brian, along with the Residents
In this case, Jordyn is definitely part of the 'creative Team' but the residents were also involved. I was going to arrogantly put my name on the bottom of each disc but I have never been able to take more credit than I am due. So my projects will be "VC Creatives" to honour our Creative Team.

It turned out that the short pole was not very useful and we only used the long one.

Also, even with a waxed bottom the residents couldn't push the discs far enough. We experimented with other items!

The residents under my care enjoyed the game and the experimentation as did I. I think the game will work better on the other floor where there are more who are stronger.

I have shown two activities that require a lot, I mean, A LOT of preparation. And this one took a lot more effort than one game is worth. I did learn more about wood working so my education probably makes the prep valuable for that. And we may be able to use the game on my floor and elsewhere.

Still, I wanted to finish with an activity that I thought would last 20-30 minutes and has been a consistent two hour event. And with zero preparation, really. I first called it "bird watching" but only three birds flew by. It turns out that 'window watching' is a pretty good activity! We looked out the window and commented on what we saw and about the weather and more. It was a great form of comfort to have the excuse of looking out the window for any conversational lags.
I just wanted to end with a far easier to prep activity than the previous two,

Saturday, July 4, 2020

Another post on the limits of my creativity

Three projects to describe here

In the weeks leading up to Canada Day, I helped the residents of my Long Term Care Home make papier mache, uh, blobs. Most were just wrapping balloons with the paper soaking in flour water but one had some shape with four legs and a head. One failure here is that the residents often have limited mobility and could not do a lot. Mostly, we chatted while my coworker and I did the work. The residents did more of the painting afterward. The papier mache was touched up and finished by my coworker and I. I gotta say, my coworker did more, and better, painting than I. I got the job done while she got the job done well. Perhaps we complement each other.

I joked that I was going to fill the pinatas with the residents' medications but instead we went with more traditional fillings - sugar free chocolate and candy and hair clips. Okay, hair clips might not be traditional but, especially in this time of CoVID, nobody is coming in to cut the residents' hair and the clips are very useful.

Success and failure: Most of the work was done by staff rather than residents. I don't know if lower tables would help so the residents could be 'over' the activity rather than reaching forward to it.ergonomically, their positions in wheelchairs wasn't ideal. Residents were able to paint solid colours but due to palsy or other issues could not paint details well. We staff did a lot of touch up on the papier mache and then a lot of other work on them. I am still working on crafts that residents do the majority of the work. One success was in breaking them open on Canada Day. We hung two from the ceiling and gave the residents foam paddles. A well aimed blow would tear the pinata open but instead, basically a game of tetherball started with the residents batting the increasingly battered bee back and forth to each other. We will use some of the other papier mache creations and find some version of a tetherball that is heavy enough and also gentle enough when impacts occur.

The second activity in the image above was a 'graduation ceremony' for new hires at the LTC Home that missed their actual ceremonies due to CoVID. One coworker went out of her way to say she was sad that she missed her grad. So, Brian to the rescue!

I learned a few things about the young staff that missed their grads, called a few parents up and arranged a ceremony in the Home. A lot went well and a lot did not and this was a unique event; I do not expect a second chance to get it right. So that was my big problem with it; that I wasn't able to sort out all the issues and problems that could happen, that I didn't work it through in my head, or that I didn't have someone edit my ideas to point out possible problems.

Here's what happened.

I prepared the robes and everything else in secret, then sent my coworker away on an errand. In the ten minutes she was away, I cleaned out part of the dining room of all the tables and found enough residents awake to fill it up. I also hung grad decorations on the walls and prepared the computer and so on.  For clothing, I secretly changed from shorts and a Hawaiian shirt to good pants, a shirt and tie. Good stuff! First problem; in moving all those tables on the hottest day of the year to that point, I soaked through my shirt, leaving huge dark stains across my stomach and back.

We had mortarboard hats and 'grad' sashes for a previous activity and I got the grads into PPE robes in place of more traditional ones. I played Pomp and Circumstance and lead the graduates into the dining room. The ceremony went fairly well although my voice was far squeakier than I thought - listening to the recording was embarrassing. And I did not explain fully to the residents what was going on. Otherwise, it went very well. 
Very well on the third floor, that is! Our LTC Home has two floors of residents and we keep them the floors separate - even staff do not mix much. So once the third floor was done, I raced downstairs to do it again on the second. This was faster, clumsier and all round messier. In my defence, my manager who would have taken some of the tasks, was away unexpectedly.

So I say this was well thought out but not as well executed as I would like and I will not have a chance to repeat it.

The final activity I have been working on that has required creativity is shuffleboard. Not the table top version with small discs you slide across a waxed surface but the larger floor one where you push larger discs with a pole. Below are some of the discs I cut from a 1 X 8 and the launcher that will soon go on the end of a pole. The discs are not done and also not all that round but that gives a few residents a job to do this week. We have two fairly able bodied residents who would otherwise have access to out of doors but because of CoVID are trapped inside. They should be able to use sand paper and smooth out these discs. The cutting and shaping on my end took nearly two hours. This is in part due to not having the best or proper tools for the job. I don't want to give so much free labour to my job but in this case, again because of CoVID, I needed something to do aside from feel lonely. This work helped me and will help residents. Time well spent!