The Bess and Moe Greenberg Family Hillel Lodge, a 121 room, long term care home in Ottawa, Canada, has a long history of serving Ottawa’s Jewish community through programs for its residents and the frail elderly in the community. The Lodge combines a traditional Jewish environment with leading person-centred practices in long term care.
The Lodge is known for adapting its care and services to the ever-changing needs of its residents. Recently, through a generous donation the Lodge introduced a special program called Comfort Therapy along with a purpose-built room called The Park.
A component of Comfort Therapy uses life-like baby dolls and pets to help reduce anxiety, loneliness and agitation among residents with Alzheimer’s or any other kind of dementia. Doll therapy, as it is commonly referred to, helps people living with dementia lower their distress levels and improves their quality of life. Individuals with anxiety or agitation are considered to have unmet needs that are difficult for them to communicate. Caring for the doll on a day-to-day basis helps stimulate memories of early parenthood and fosters attachment through the comforts of touching and holding. It can provide an alternative to pharmacological approaches in the care of those with dementia.
In anticipation of this new program, Hillel Lodge designed a special area on the second floor to enhance the experience of Comfort Therapy. The designated space looks and feels like a park, complete with full wall images of trees and the audible sounds of birds, wind blowing and a babbling brook. While the program is generally conducted one-on-one, it can also be done in small groups. The overall success of this therapy is in part dependent upon full collaboration amongst staff and family members of residents.
“My mother has enjoyed a terrific amount of comfort with the doll therapy program, “said Jennifer Jennings, a family member. “She enjoys giving care and comfort and receives in kind.”
Staff also are fans of the program. “This new space provides a comforting and peaceful place that sparks memories from taking care of babies to gathering maple syrup in the spring,” said staffer Judy Lamarche. “We are lucky to see lots of happy faces and hear lots of happy memories. I call this the “remembering garden. Thank you!”
Ted Cohen, chief executive officer for the Bess and Moe Greenberg Family Hillel Lodge, says of the program, “At Hillel Lodge we recognize the importance of providing programs such as our new Comfort Therapy that supports our residents through person-centred care. The Lodge will continue to introduce similar programs to ensure we offer a wide variety of opportunities to engage our residents with a goal of providing the highest quality of life.”
Hillel Lodge’s Comfort Therapy program is just one more way that Hillel Lodge continues to enhance its person-centred care approach by fostering comfort, connection and care with dignity.