TimeSlips Program Promotes Creative Engagement Among Eastcastle Place Residents

IMG_8924Eastcastle Place, a full continuum of care retirement community that takes a holistic approach to senior care and living, is a proud, longtime participant of the TimeSlips program. Begun in 1998 and currently active in 42 states and 12 countries, TimeSlips offers a revolution in elder care by infusing creativity into care relationships and services.

According to Angela Fingard, project manager and master trainer for TimeSlips, the evidence-based, award-winning program is supported by research and focuses on nurturing and facilitating communications between senior community staff and residents. Directed toward residents with dementia, the program is a way to offer creative engagement and increases participants’ wellbeing.

“We realize that creativity can happen at all stages of life and it’s wonderful for participants to have more purpose and control over their lives,” Fingard said. “There are no wrong answers and each participant engages differently, some verbally, some through sound and others through movement. There are many ways to engage audiences and it’s impactful,” she finished.

The premise of the program may differ slightly at different senior communities, but at Eastcastle Place, staff, including TimeSlips coordinator and director of community lifestyle services, Laura Wengler, are first trained on the TimeSlips philosophy so that they can effectively learn how to lead collaboratively, creatively and in a person-centered manner.  “This program in particular puts a lot of value on my work,” said Wengler. “Programs like TimeSlips give purpose and meaning to people’s lives and every story we come up with generates smiles, laughter and promotes deep, meaningful conversations,” she finished.

IMG_8922The weekly TimeSlips meetings are held in Eastcastle Place’s Assisted Memory unit and Memory Support area, and are attended by about 15 Eastcastle Place residents. The facilitators include Wengler, as well as activity coordinators Adrenna Bell, Hannah Siegrist, and Gary Aubry, who display a photo or piece of art and encourage participants to offer stories, words or reactions to what is taking place in the visuals. Fingard stresses that all answers are legitimate and reactions can sometimes lead to deeper discussions about the subject matter.  At the beginning of the next session, the participants are provided with a recap of the previous session’s outputs to retain the continuity of communication and refresh the memories of those in attendance. In addition, six volunteers from UWM are involved and assist with leading the groups and preparing the documentation.

This year, Eastcastle Place was chosen as one of only 50 organizations receiving a grant from the state of Wisconsin to assist with “creative community of care” training and program implementation. “This training is so important because it teaches the staff how to have open, engaging conversations in every resident interaction throughout the day,” said Fingard. “Maybe it’s a chat on the way to the dining room, maybe a resident is in pain and needs help expressing it. Whatever the situation, helping them express how they feel is important.”

In May, Eastcastle Place will be participating in a larger exhibition in Wisconsin Dells where stories collected over the course of the program will be displayed. In addition, the community will be featured in a series of public radio spots featuring stories of impact including interviews with staff, residents and volunteers.

“I’m just so proud to be a part of a community where programs like TimeSlips are making a true, meaningful difference in the lives of our residents,” said Wengler.