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Everything you need to know about Tovertafel

A Dutch invention, Tovertafel translates to ‘magic table’ in English. It’s not actually a table at all; it’s a little box which can be mounted on the ceiling, providing a projection down to whatever surface is beneath it. As we’ve just invested in a Tovertafel for the enjoyment of our residents, we wanted to share a little bit about it with you.


What is the Tovertafel?

Tovertafel is essentially a ceiling-based projector, which shines multicoloured lights onto the surface below, usually a table. People can sit around the table and play with the lights, which respond to their movements and touch.


Games range from bouncing a beach ball across the table to helping flowers grow or chasing fish around a pool. Developed in the Netherlands, the Tovertafel has already been trialled in many care homes in the Benelux countries, to great success.


How was Tovertafel developed?

The developer wanted to create something which would reach out to those with mid to late stage dementia, giving their families a means of communication and engagement. All too many families spend the final months or even years with no means of interaction with their loved ones.


The Tovertafel breaks down these boundaries, giving those living with dementia an outlet. The design of the games is such that it doesn’t require any initiative from the participants. Instead, the energising, attention grabbing light invites them to play. 


The research behind this product established that, even in the late stages of dementia, people can still experience the three main outcomes of play: Relaxation, sensation and reminiscence. The games that the designers have added to the Tovertafel so far are all tuned to elicit all three. There are no rules, there’s no way to ‘go wrong’ with the games and everyone can celebrate their abilities


How can the Tovertafel help people living with dementia? 

The Tovertafel has been created to encourage play, even when mental barriers need to be overcome. Some of the benefits to people living with dementia include:


·      Independent play: The simplicity of the games lend themselves perfectly to letting older people play independently, without requiring a care assistant’s supervision

·      Physical activity: The games require moderate reaching, stretching and movement, encouraging physical activity in even the most reluctant of participants

·      Interactions: Playing with the Tovertafel encourages valuable interactions with other residents, staff and visitors

·      Suits all levels: The games can be tailored to suit people of varying abilities, making it a valuable asset for all residents

·      No right or wrong: There is no failure here. If they don’t bounce the beach ball back, it simply bounces off the edge of the table. Everyone has a chance to shine and to be proud of what they can do.


We’re really excited to introduce Tovertafel in our homes and have installed them in both Blenheim House and Fernhill house for the benefit of our residents.


How will we use Tovertafel?

We’re hoping to design activities around the Tovertafel, as well as to simply allow residents free play with the device. Although designed for those in mid to late stage dementia, we’re sure that other residents will enjoy it too, and that it will stimulate valuable interactions between all of our residents.


We hope that when you come to visit, as well as younger members of the family, that you will have a play with our Tovertafel too. We’re thrilled to see how this new investment helps encourage engagement with residents, so do pop in and see what it’s all about!


The Benefits of Laughter

We’ve all heard the popular saying, ‘laughter is the best medicine’, but could there be some truth is this cliched phrase? While laughter isn’t going to replace antibiotics any time soon, there could be more benefits than you think to a good giggle.


Recent research has suggested that sharing a laugh can have some significantly beneficial effects. Laughing stimulates both the mind and the body and has been shown to generate some positive outcomes for people young and old. Here’s how it works:


·      Stress hormones are driven down

The American Physiological Society found that laughing reduced stress by driving down the hormones in the body responsible for increased agitation. Problems like stress, depression and anxiety can be common issues in older adults but sharing a good old giggle have been shown to lift the mood and improve their outlook.

·      Tension is released

Over time, the build-up of tension can make our joints stiff and sore. In older people particularly, worries in their mind can translate to tension in their bodies. Laughing has been proven to provide an explosive release of this built up tension, helping muscles relax and worries melt away. Relaxed muscles can lead to additional flexibility, which is incredibly important to older people as this can help to prevent falls.

·      Endorphins dull aches and pains

We’ve all heard of the ‘happy hormones’ endorphins, which generally get released after exercise, sex or chocolate. Well, they also flood our systems after a hearty laugh too, boosting our mood and supressing pain receptors. Although the natural pain relief endorphins provide is no substitute for prescription medication, it can provide some welcome respite from relentless aches that come with conditions like arthritis.

·      It builds relationships and brings people closer

Nothing is better at growing a friendship and social bond between people than sharing a bit of hilarity together. Whether it’s watching a funny movie together, laughing at a good joke or simply giggling at something silly, when we laugh together, barriers are broken down and people become closer. Moving into a care home can be a frightening experience for an older person but sharing in the fun and laughter with their fellow residents is a great way to break the ice.


To help our residents enjoy a good laugh, we often put on shows, entertainment or fun activities designed to bring smiles to faces. Why not drop in and join in the fun for an afternoon. After all, we all need a good guffaw from time to time!


Over 60s Should Walk 10 Minutes Every Day

Recent research has shown that brisk walking for just 10 minutes each day could cut the risk of heart disease by as much as six per cent.  Researchers stated that the exercise needed to be ‘moderate to vigorous’, but only needed to take place for a very short time in order to have an effect on health.


The results of this short burst of activity were incredible. Participants in the study exhibited reduced inflammation, reduced cholesterol and less biomarkers for blood clots. All of these reduce the risk of heart disease, which in women was knocked down by six per cent, and in men by 3.7 per cent.


The research, conducted by the University of Bristol, looked at groups of over 60s in relation to the amount of vigorous activity or light activity they did. Even light activities such as gardening or slow walking was found to decrease biomarkers for heart disease by 0.8 per cent.


How much should older adults exercise?

It’s clear to see from this research that exercise doesn’t need to be done for long periods in order to be effective. The key here was to do something every day, even if its just for ten minutes. 


The NHS guidelines for adults over 65 says that everyone should do one of the following:


·      150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity (cycling, walking) each week alongside strength activities two or more days a week which work on all major muscles

·      Vigorous aerobic activity such as running or tennis for 75 minutes a week as well as strength exercises on two or more days

·      A mix of moderate a vigorous activity every week to a similar level to the above, as well as strength exercises at least two days a week


These guidelines are in line with those issued by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and reflect the findings of years of research into the subject. However, for many older adults, these types of activity levels are impossible to achieve, particularly where they have reduced mobility or other health issues to consider.


The benefits of exercise

Whether you’re up to playing 75 minutes of tennis a week or can just about manage a 10 minute walk each day, the important thing is to get up and moving. Being sedentary has been shown to be incredibly damaging to health, leading to issues with posture, circulation, obesity and more. Even a little increase in exercise from your normal levels can lead to a whole host of benefits for your body, including:


·      Fall prevention: Strengthening your muscles as well as improving your balance and coordination can reduce the risk of falls. Exercise also increases bone density, and the WHO say exercising regularly could reduce the risk of a hip fracture by around 40 per cent.

·      Reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke: Cardiovascular activity (basically anything that gets your blood pumping faster) can significantly reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke. This could include brisk walking, light housework or cycling.

·      Reduce risk of developing dementia: A sedentary lifestyle as you age can increase the risk of developing dementia. A study by the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease studied more than 1,600 individuals over a five-year period and found this to be true.

·      Confidence and independence: Being physically active can help people stay more independent too. Reducing the risk of falling means reducing fear of falling, which can make individuals happier to do things by themselves. 

·      Prevention or delay of disease: Many chronic conditions such as arthritis, diabetes and heart disease can help to control the symptoms of these problems. 

·      Longer lifespan: According to the WHO, being sedentary is one of 10 leading causes of death or disability. Even undertaking gentle exercise on a regular basis can increase our lifespan by three to five years.


Here at our home, we encourage residents to take part in physical activity whenever possible. We regularly introduce activities and special events targeted at increasing physical activity and encourage families to come in and participate too. Why not talk to your care worker about what we’re doing to help your loved on stay fit and well?


The power of wellness and pampering
For older people living in care, a break from the norm can be a rejuvenating and refreshing experience. In research conducted in the North of England, the Hair and Care Project uncovered some of the many ways in which a visit to a salon can be beneficial to older people, and particularly those who are living with dementia. 

Therapists and hairdressers who work with older people are not just your average professional. Many are trained in interacting with older people, with some ex-care workers or dementia trained specialists, to help them put the client resident ease. 

We’ve seen first hand just how amazing the effect of hair and beauty treatments can be on an older person and would like to share with you our reasons for operating an in-house salon at Majesticare. 

The benefits of beauty for older people 

We have observed and discovered many far-reaching benefits to indulging in some beauty treatments. Among the many happy consequences were things like:

· Reminiscing: Salons are the ideal place to reminisce about the good old days, and hairdressers are often the ‘keeper of secrets’, encouraging residents to open up about themselves and reconnect with their past. 
· Refreshing: Having a hair or nail treatment, or another type of beauty therapy, can help make residents feel renewed and refreshed. New found energy is discovered, and a happier outlook on life adopted. 
· Fights depression: By encouraging residents to take care of how they look, they often end up feeling better about their situation too. They are the centre of attention, relaxed and love to enjoy a transformation in their appearance. 
· Family engagement: Lots of grandchildren (or even great grandchildren) love to come and watch residents getting their nails done. It adds a new and interesting layer to their visit, encouraging visits to happen more often and be happier occasions. 
· Multi-sensory experience: The experience of being touched, massaged, talked to and all the smells that go with a salon experience offer full sensory indulgence that just can’t be matched. This is particularly important for those living with dementia and enables continuity in their interactions and activities.

Our hair and beauty treatments are not just popular with the ladies either. Male residents too love to look smart and presentable and find grooming a highly therapeutic experience. Hand and foot massages can relive pain, and a manicure is a great way to avoid them accidentally cutting themselves with their own nails. 

Hair and beauty for all at Majesticare

At Majesticare luxury care homes, we are pleased to be able to offer a full suite of hair and beauty treatments to our residents. Our in-house salon is staffed by hairdressers, nail technicians and beauty therapists, helping every one of our residents look and feel fabulous. 

We can also arrange visits from specialist professionals to offer a range of other treatments, from hand and foot massages to facials and more. Best of all, everything is included in the cost of staying with us, so there’s never a good reason not to indulge in a spot of pampering.

Top days out not far from Fernhill House
Our residents love living at Fernhill House, but sometimes it’s nice to get out and about too. If you’re keen to take your loved one out for a day, or wondering where the next trip might be on the Fernhill House minibus, here are our picks of some of the best days out which are within easy reach of our home at Fernhill House.

Spetchley Park 

Literally right on our doorstep, less than 10 minutes’ drive, these gorgeous gardens surrounded by ancient parklands and lakes are the perfect place to re-engage with nature. Owned by the Berkeley Family for more than 400 years, this garden is bursting with rare plants, trees and shrubs from all over the world, and is a burst of colour and interest for all ages. 

The gardens are flat with easily accessible paths, although some are gravelled which can make wheelchair use a little challenging. The Fountain Gardens paths are narrow and stony, so care needs to be taken when walking in this area. Spetchley Park offer a map on arrival which details which paths and trails are most accessible, and the tea room has a ramp to enable easy disabled access. 

Worcester Cathedral 

If you haven’t been to the cathedral yet, you must put it on your to-do list. It’s been the seat of a bishopric since the 7th century, and even today is still the heart of a vibrant community of clergy and laypeople serving the city of Worcester. It’s one of England’s most beautiful cathedrals and houses the tombs of King John and Prince Arthur. 

Blue badge holders can phone ahead to book a disabled parking space right next to the cathedral or can park in King Street car park which is in easy walking distance. There is ramped access to the cathedral entrance, and ramped access also to the cloisters where the shop and café are located. Services provide a hearing loop, toilets and wheelchair accessible and a tactile guide is available for those who are visually impaired. 

Pershore Bridges 

If you’d love to get out into the open air and enjoy some of Worcestershire’s most beautiful countryside, Pershore Bridges is a great place to go. Access is free, and there is a fantastic picnic area nestled next to a medieval bridge which spans the river Avon. Take some sandwiches and enjoy a relaxing hour or two on the banks of this beautiful waterway. 

All picnic benches are wheelchair accessible, and the whole site is relatively flat with just gentle slopes to negotiate. If you fancy staying a bit longer, there is a disabled fishing platform available where you and your loved ones can enjoy some of the best angling in the Midlands. 

Eastnor Castle

The beautiful Eastnor Castle is a mere 40-minute drive from Fernhill House. There are 500 acres of parkland to explore, as well as the historical residence which is full of treasures and art. Wheelchair users should keep in mind that many of the paths and the car park and laid to gravel, which can make traversing these areas hard work. 

For the house itself, there are some stairs to the State Rooms, but the management of the site have helpfully installed a stair climber for older and disabled visitors. There is also a lift to the first floor, and the café which serves amazing cakes, coffee and tea is fully wheelchair accessible. 

ThinkTank 

If you fancy a jaunt a little further afield, ThinkTank is Birmingham’s Science Museum, and offers some amazing facilities just 50 minutes travelling time from Fernhill House. Their science and industry collection will certainly bring back memories, with devices covering 250 years of technological advancement. They also have a huge exhibit of steam machines as well as the Spitfire Gallery which tells the story of this WWII icon. 

The museum offers a wide variety of resources designed to make their exhibits accessible to all. From portable induction loops to large print maps and guides, magnifying glasses to wheelchairs. The whole museum is disability friendly, so wheelchair users should have no concerns, and one caregiver can go in for free with anyone in receipt of DLA or a PIP. 

For more information and advice on where to go and how to organise a day out with your loved one, talk to any of our team and we’ll be happy to help. 

 

May