Dementia Centred

By Karen Ditlevsen

March 13th, 2017

A view of meaningful activities in practice from Denmark

"Huset Lotte" is a nursing home in Fredriksberg, close to the centre of Copenhagen, Denmark. The home is housed in a purpose built 8 storey building. It is home to 60 residents who are divided into 3 communities, each community occupies two floors. It has service and function facilities on the ground floor and a roof garden and treatment rooms on the top floor.

One of my responsibilities at the home is the planning and organisation of joint activites for our residents, our activities at Lotte form a big part of our identity.

We divide our activities into two groups, those for one community (20 residents) and those for the whole home (60 residents). The community based activities usually take place in that community's dining room, whereas the whole home activities generally take place in the halls on the ground floor or the roof terrace.

One of our yearly activities is "big apple week". On the Monday we all travel by bus and car to a beautiful apple orchard where we, at no charge, are invited to pick apples. We collect many apples, some residents help in the picking but most watch while we pick.

On the return to the house we bake apple cake for afternoon tea. Even ladies in advanced stages of dementia can peel the apples. On the Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday I work a late shift so I can cook "Æbleflæsk" in the kitchens within each community for the residents' dinner. Æbleflæsk is an old Danish dish of apples and pork, which is eaten with rye bread. We plan this with our kitchen staff, who will purchase the pork, as we dont need our usual dinner those evenings.

During the month of December I spend 3 Sundays baking "klejner", a Danish Christmas specialty. Again the smell of cookies will spread through the communities. We have a fiddler and eat cookies and drink hot mulled wine together in the afternoon.

A regular activity is the monthly morning baking. I will come in very early and bake homemade breakfast buns for each community. Home baked bread is a big part of Danish life and wel all love to wake up to the smell of freshly baked buns.

Themes like "big apple week" and Advent work well for us as they both "taste" and "smell" like the old days and play into the seasons too. The activities are loved by both residents and staff and it makes us all feel close.

Many of our activities are possibly becuase of our volunteers, who make a great effort. The volunteers are my responsibility and I spend a lot of time making sure they feel valued too. They are an important part of our house and add to the happy atmosphere.

We have many other activities, some regular, some one-off. We just organised beer tasting for our male residents, this was a great success. Currently we run a film club every Monday afternoon showing Poul Hammerich's "Gamle Danmark" (Old Denmark).

Karen Ditlevsen's official job title is Sundhedsservicesekretær (Health Service Officer), but she describes herself as "Lotte" or the chief cook and bottle washer of Lotte.

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