Improve health and well-being
Our core aim is to support socially isolated and lonely adults over the age of 18 who may have 'lost their way' or are lacking in confidence for many different reasons in the Falmouth, Penryn and Truro areas. Connecting Lives offers a range of stimulating activities within a service user’s home each intended to contain therapeutic value. At the heart of the activity is the formation of a two-way relationship between the service user and their allocated employee or volunteer. Empathy, compassion, active listening and empowerment are skills which all of our volunteers are trained in
Alongside this, we advocate on behalf of adults to ensure their wider care and support needs are being met, and ensure that adult safeguarding measures are followed through where necessary, in order to reduce harm.
Ultimately we aim to facilitate attendance at local groups, centres and activity classes to reconnect vulnerable adults to their communities. So by the time our involvement comes to an end the service user is ready for social independence.
In addition to influencing society, music also has a large affect on the individual. Evidence from the Nordic Journal of Music Therapy and the Journal of Clinical Nursing suggests that music can help improve mental health by reducing certain symptoms of depression and by making people feel more in control.
Activities like painting, sculpting, drawing, and photography are relaxing and rewarding tasks that can lower your stress levels and leave you feeling mentally clear and calm. Creating art provides a distraction, giving your brain a break from your usual thoughts and helping you to revisit them from a different perspective. The average person has 60,000 thoughts per day and 95% of them are exactly the same day in, day out! When you get totally immersed in a creative endeavour, you may find yourself in what’s known as “the zone” or in a state of “flow.” This meditative-like state focuses your mind and temporarily pushes aside all your worries.
Mental health benefits associated with the use of therapy dogs include: decreased anxiety, increased sense of comfort and safety, reduced loneliness, enhanced self-esteem and confidence, increased prosocial behaviours, decreased behavioural problems, providing enjoyment for participants.
A study of people with Alzheimer’s Disease found that spending time with therapy dogs increased time recounting memories and feelings and helping to improve quality of life. When working with people with autism, therapy dogs have been found to increase social interaction and communication and decreased problem behaviors, autistic severity, and stress. One study of therapy dogs in a psychiatric inpatient setting concluded that the dogs can significantly enhance conventional therapies.
For those adults who may have been out of education, employment or training for some time and who have been assessed by other external organisations as having the capacity to undertake paid work for example, there may be many daunting obstacles to overcome. Information Technology can move fast in its developments which can challenge even the most competent expert in IT skills. The film “I, Daniel Blake” from the Director Ken Loach is an excellent portrayal of how the “system” can create hurdles which can be difficult to contend with – in particular if you are already socially isolated. Volunteers with specific training or experience in IT skills and business are sought by Connecting Lives to provide mentoring in this regard.
Faciltating Social Independence
At the heart of Connecting Lives is the ambition to ensure those we support during their time with our service regain confidence and independence so that by the time we are ready to say our goodbyes, the individual feels ready and able to access a social life or work or volunteering for themselves without fear or reluctance. Our volunteers will attend groups and activities with an individual initially to boost self-esteem and alleviate anxiety.
Reminiscing is about looking back at past memories, ones that bring back good feelings and helping to mentally stimulate people. For those who are living with dementia, it can be a great way of increasing well being, engaging in meaningful conversation, along with increasing feelings of belonging and connection. It's a person centred activity, helping the person with dementia to feel their sense of identity, as well as helping to calm and engage them. Meaningful activities are important to all of us, and as dementia takes away some of the things we are able to do, keeping a level of enjoying and engaging activities is valuable, both to the person facilitating the activity, as well as the person with dementia. Reminiscing is not just for dementia, it can be a helpful activity for any adult service-user to engage with.
Life Story Work
Life story work is a useful tool for bringing our lives back into focus. It helps restore, and preserve, an identity that the ageing process, and dementia in particular, eats away at.