Why are Life Stations so important in dementia care?
The photo featured here is from Brookdale Burlington, in Burlington NC. This is one of the first Life Skills Stations that I ever designed. It is simple and fits well in an awkward space. The Baby Station featured here became an immediate hit with the residents!
When we talk about “Life Stations,” we are talking about the activity and engagement stations, made specifically for residents with dementia. These stations should be a main focus in dementia care communities. These stations allow residents space and and engagement opportunities throughout the day, regardless of the staff working there.
These “Life Stations” should replicate things that we see in normal, everyday life. Here are some great examples of stations that you can bring to your community:
- Office Station
- Baby Station
- Kitchen Station
- Nurses’ Station
- Teachers’ Station
- Man Cave
- Dressing Room Station
- Laundry Station
The best communities that I have seen have many of these stations. While they are called different things at different companies (“Life Stations” is a phrase that Brookdale Senior Living coined) these stations make or break a community’s dementia-positive opportunities. Staff should be in charge of keeping these stations clean and organized each day. Residents should be able to interact with the knick-knacks, move items around, and engage with the stations any time during the day.
These stations provide a way for residents to go about their day and feel normal. For example, a resident with dementia can walk into a room with a “kitchen station” and start reorganizing the silverware. She can set the table and fold some kitchen towels. These are tasks that we’ve all done, and these are tasks that bring a sense of normalcy to our lives.
Amanda: Life skill stations were my favorite part of memory care renovations. As Rachael mentioned, I loved giving residents something to interact with on their own time. My biggest tip is to make sure the condition of these stations is a priority with staff. For this to happen, you have to get everyone excited about the stations and explain how the stations will help residents. Most people won’t complain about checking rooms for missing items from the vanity when they know tomorrow morning Mrs. Smith will be sitting there waiting to try on scarves and hats. Inevitably, items will go missing or break. So just make sure you’re checking often to see if items need to be cycled out or replaced.
Life stations give residents a sense of familiarity in a very unfamiliar place. Have you used them in your community? Share which stations have been most successful for you in the comments below!