As part of Museum E!, Salonklets (Lounge Chats) is a dynamic system that gives care-home residents, their families and staff the opportunity to work together to shape their environment and enable them to build new social networks. ‘Experience’ is the key focus, particularly residents’ sensory experience, but also recalling and experiencing past and present events as well as looking forward to the immediate future. Pantopicon was asked to focus purely on semi-public areas, so the corridors where residents’ rooms and shared living areas merge.
The initiative involved creating a profile board for each resident to which they could attach cards, photographs, pictures and so forth describing their experiences in their daily lives and what they were looking forward to in the immediate future. For residents suffering from dementia, their senses of touch, smell and taste were all stimulated, for example by displaying objects and a ‘Herb of the Month’ on the BurenMuur (Neighbours’ Wall) in each of the accommodation units.
Salonklets is a welcoming activity open to everyone. Newcomers are given a starter kit full of material to work on, and are shown exactly how the system operates. They are encouraged to join in and build social networks, but it is completely up to them how much they participate.
The initiative gives residents a fun and stimulating way to spend their free time and they, together with their family and the staff, feel a genuine sense of involvement. They interact with one another and more attention is thus focused on and greater value assigned to what matters to elderly people, all of which impacts positively on their care. They also develop a more positive overall outlook. For families and visitors, it is a distraction: the situation seems more bearable and they feel less isolated. Carers have noticed that they are able to get to know residents better without having to devote extra time to doing so, and they know that their work is valued from comments left on the compliments board and experiences shared on the BurenMuur.