Guest Blog post by Brenda L. Hart, MEd. CTRS
Individuals who reside in long term care facilities are found through evaluation to express an interest and enjoyment in activities that are creative and expressive through writing poetry and verse. Those who have disabilities such as stroke, hearing deficit and visual impaired can express verbally or in writing interests and ideas.
The activity can be an encouraging invitation to attend the session for 45 minutes to 1 hour once a week often in the morning. The area for talking and listening to each other should be a space that is free of outside noises. A small group of 6 to 8 individuals can join around a table or seated in a circle that enables all to see and hear clearly.
Supplies for the activity can include paper and pencil or a large board for writing ideas that can be within view for all to see. Also, amplification may be needed for enabling
all to hear. Often a braille writer can be available for the blind.
Examples of the activity:
1. A list of words offered by the activity director such as the name of
an animal, a place, a time/day/date, season, and with the words in mind make up a poem or story using each person’s suggestions.
2. Asking each person for a word or words, then writing them down on the large board. Word scramble is a beginning to place rhyming words together.
3. Beginning a session by reading a poem that can be rhyming or verse that
does not necessarily rhyme demonstrating what words sound like when heard.
4. Enabling individuals to offer their own written poem or verse by encouraging
them to write or record their thoughts.
5. Pictures can be presented for interpreting feelings and emotions that can be
funny and pleasurable that stimulate expression for writing.
6. Poems can be collected and printed with permission of the author for
sharing with family and friends as well as the newsletters for the facility
The benefits of writing poetry are many.
1. Identifying with others who have similar interest.
2. Opportunity for socialization.
3. Conversation in sharing suggestions and ideas.
4. Reminiscing about the past is healthy and can provide enjoyment.
5. Rhyming words together that are appropriate.
6. Identifying time, place and person.
7. Outlet for creativity self-expression
8. Group decisions about what sounds appropriate
9. Fun with words.
The object of writing poetry is for individuals to express and share thoughts and ideas in a fun and creative way. Often there is self esteem and confidence building is creating and hearing an individual’s words. especially when individuals in facilities are close and often the voice is not heard or time is not given for their thoughts and ideas.
I am a CTRS and have worked in long term care for over 30 years. I love working with elderly and seeing the benefits of our work as therapeutic recreation specialists.