Entering an aged care facility can be a daunting experience for an elderly person, as for many, this decision is made with the realisation that living independently may no longer be an option, and they will most likely not be returning to their home.
The word ‘home’ often conjures images of a house filled with loved ones, but in reality, home is actually a feeling that comes with being in a place where you are truly comfortable and able to be yourself.
Living in a community environment can be a large adjustment for an elderly person, as the group dynamics of a shared environment have the ability to take its toll on a residents sense of individuality.
But one Melbourne based small business has been making big waves in the aged care space recently, with their simple yet innovative solution that offers aged care facilities a chance to provide meaningful insight into the personal-history of their beloved residents.
The Wall Sticker Company, lead by their Director and ex-nurse Jenny Menz, have taken the free space created by the generic front door of each individual aged care residents room and used this to showcase a snapshot in time that means something to them personally – via the use of an oversized door-sticker.
“Our experiences in our lives make us who we are, and sharing that with others as we get older reminds people about what makes us unique as individuals,” said Jenny.
“Everyone has different things in their lives that mean something special, so we get some really unique photos from residents that they would like placed on their doors. For some, it’s their wedding day, for others, it can be family members, a sports team or a pet, the great thing is the variety.”
“When you walk down a hallway with quite a few door stickers, it’s literally like strolling down memory lane.”
The door-stickers themselves are extremely easy to use and can be applied by The Wall Sticker Company or anybody with a little bit of DIY know-how, the stickers are also easily removable without causing any damage to the surface of any door or wall.
Although Jenny is an ex-nurse who worked with elderly, the idea to place wall stickers in aged care homes actually came about after The Wall Sticker Company were approached to try and disguise an exit door at an aged care facility.
“Initially, the majority of our work was either children’s rooms and nurseries, or adding a really standout feature to a large corporate space, but then we were approached by an aged care facility who wanted us to try and disguise an exit door as a bookshelf to help to try and steer residents away from it,” said Jenny.
“At the end of the day, the stickers are about creating a positive atmosphere, and seeing some of the reactions from elderly residents when they first catch a glimpse of their door lets me know that what we are doing is an extremely positive thing for them.”
A number of residents were reduced to tears upon seeing the newly transformed entrance to their room, while others stood proudly in front of the doors and willingly gave the backstory that revealed why their particular sticker meant so much to them personally.
And having pictures that are so unique and easily identifiable to a resident makes it a lot easier for them to actually find their room within a facility.
“It’s so beautiful when you watch their eyes as and you can see that recognition of ‘that’s me, this is mine, and that’s who I am.’ There is a real sense of pride behind it,” said Jenny.
“Elderly people deserve to be treated like the individuals they are, and not lumped together as if they have the same needs. Everyone is different, and in order to understand someone’s needs you need to understand their history.”