The Activity Centre (AC) of LAF is a safe, secure, non- judgemental space where volunteers strive to provide a stimulating environment for the clients who are persons living with dementia. At LAF we believe in treating them with dignity, hence the term clients to refer to them. It’s a place of joy and laughter for the clients. Clients enjoy arts and crafts, gardening, music and games among a range of therapeutic activities that volunteers plan well ahead with the clients’ abilities in mind. We adopt a person centered approach to care. Music therapy is one activity that is enjoyed by almost all our clients. Most visitors and even family members when they visit the Centre are amazed by how responsive our clients become to the love, care and support the volunteers shower upon them.
When families and the society at large understand dementia, it becomes easier to cope and care for persons with dementia, improving not only the quality of life of the person living with dementia, but also that of the caregiver. As dementia is not a disability that is visible and since little is known about the illness or the symptoms by the public, persons’ living with dementia do not receive the support they need to live out their life with dignity and respect. Many families are rather reluctant to admit to having a person with dementia in their family, which denies the person living with dementia opportunities to mingle with outsiders. In some instances, the person with dementia isolates himself/herself and becomes apathetic over time. Thus in some cases, the AC is the only regular place outside of home they visit for a day of fun and enjoyment where they are treated for who they are.
– Craft work done by our clients –
The AC is open three days of the week; Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 9 am to 3 pm. The services are offered free of charge and open to any one irrespective of class, race or religion and we respect the confidentiality of the clients at all times. The AC does not accept walk in clients. We have regularized entry to ensure that the client benefits and enjoys the sessions and can still participate to some degree in at least some of the activities and be stimulated. Most clients come to LAF, following a memory test or a diagnosis of dementia. Some are referred to us by medical professionals. LAF offers them a one- month trial period to ensure that it is a good fit for both parties. Volunteers assess whether the client fits in with the AC and thereafter he/she is registered. This is important as LAF is responsible for the safety and wellbeing of the client. For best results we encourage regular participation at the AC. When LAF had to close down the AC temporarily in view of the pandemic, it was a set back for many of our clients. Throughout the lock down and to date, volunteers have kept in touch with the clients or where clients are unable to maintain a telephone conversation, with their caregivers to offer them support.
The AC is completely volunteer managed. LAF has three different teams of volunteers for each AC day that plan, carry out, monitor and evaluate itself monthly. At LAF, volunteerism does not mean dropping in, when you are free. It means a commitment to attend regularly as if it is paid employment. And the results have been amazing.
Volunteers are there, because they want to be a part of LAF’s journey to support and empower those living with dementia. Depending on the availability of space, LAF offers clients an opportunity to come a maximum of 2 days a week. This also provides much needed respite to care givers.