Braid House is a day centre in Livingston, Scotland, with many of their service users living with dementia. They started the Happiness Programme – the first day centre to do so in Scotland – just 2 weeks before the Covid-19 pandemic forced a nationwide lockdown, and with it the closure of their centre.
Lynda McArthur, Senior Coordinator at Braid House, said “we’d only just started using the magic table 360 at the centre, having it in the lounge area where people would come to meet. It immediately started providing a good start and end to each day, with service users able to play with it at any point, as well as during specific staff-led sessions. The training we had was great to get us up and running”.
Lynda continues “Then everything changed. We didn’t use it for a period whilst the lockdown first came in and our visits out into the community increased. But then we asked ourselves, what if we took the magic table 360 out with us? This changed our visits dramatically, giving our staff a focused activity to stimulate those they were visiting as well as having a huge impact on the service users themselves”. We’ve seen fantastic results with happiness levels increasing and significant calming effects on behaviour”.
Braid House are now using the magic table 360 on almost a third of their weekly visits in the community in a wide range of settings.
Lynda mentions a couple, Jim and Trudy, who live in Livingston. Jim has really benefited from the magic table 360 sessions at his home, giving him a positive focus, having a calming effect on his behaviour and increasing his levels of happiness. “6 months since the lockdown started, his wife Trudy hasn’t been able to access any of the services that would usually be available, so our visits have been vital for her too”.
Alyson mentions a lady called Betty, who’s living with dementia. She’s loved the time spent playing the magic table. It’s benefited her hugely; putting a smile on her face and giving her an activity that’s suited to her ability.”
Lynda adds “It’s lovely to see them spend time at the table together and be gently competitive with each other. It’s brought them closer together during a very difficult period”.
Alyson McKenzie, Operational Manager at Braid House, mentions how easy it’s been to stimulate and engage those who’ve had magic table 360 sessions. “We typically have two members of staff on each visit, allowing one to meet and greet and one to set the table up. While it doesn’t take long, it makes every minute we spend in someone’s home count”.
“We now want to get the magic table 360 out in to as many homes and during as many sessions as possible. Even when Braid House fully reopens, we’ll continue taking it into people’s homes, especially for those too unwell or unable to attend the day centre”.
Ray Baird, CEO of Braid House, is delighted with the impact of the Happiness Programme and the magic table 360. “It’s fantastic to see an innovative programme like this used in day care provision across West Lothian. It’s offered personal growth to staff members who’ve developed a confidence in using it. This then gets passed on to our service users and their families who we’re delighted to reach out to in the community.
“It’s been such a success that we hope this forms a blueprint for how other day care services can operate during such a difficult time”. In fact, Ray, as the driving force of a day care charity working in the Western Isles, Tagsa Uibhist, has already begun rolling out similar day care activity provision into this incredibly remote and rural community.