Self-conscious when facilitating groups

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Prosopon
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Self-conscious when facilitating groups

Post by Prosopon » Thu Aug 24, 2017 11:21 am

I just started a new job as an Activities Coordinator in a care home for people with dementia (which I am doing alongside my Psychology conversion course) and feel like I am doing quite well in some respects. I am running groups such as Arts and Crafts, board games and Movie Nights etc and am enjoying the challenge of thinking up ways to make activities inclusive for all the tenants, regardless of their level of functioning. The job is a lot harder than I anticipated as even most of the seemingly able people need a lot of assistance, and I am having to spend a lot of time 1 on 1 with people, which makes it difficult to facilitate a group activity, but I am finding ways to work around this!

However, my manager keeps coming into the communal area and commenting on how quiet it is and saying to me, “don’t be afraid to make some noise and make a fool of yourself!” and things like that. She seems to think I should be playing the clown constantly, but that’s not my style and I’m quite a self-conscious person. But I really want to work on this and get a bit more outgoing and upbeat when I am running a group. Does anyone have any tips on how to become less self-conscious? I’m thinking I need to do a confidence skills course or something like that. Or maybe I need to hire a drama coach or something? I’m not too sure how to work on this!
"Is this real? Or has this been happening inside my head?"

“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?”

~From Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

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lingua_franca
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Re: Self-conscious when facilitating groups

Post by lingua_franca » Thu Aug 24, 2017 7:08 pm

Presumably there are some support workers around when you're running these groups, and you're not the sole staff member there? If yes, it might help if you talked the support workers through the activity you're planning before you get started. They probably know the residents well and will be able to tell who is going to need 1:1 support to take part. Let them take care of as much of the 1:1 support as possible while you concentrate on running the group as a whole.

Some people with dementia find it easier to follow along if there are lots of visuals, so if you haven't got one already, try a picture-based activity timetable (it needs to be large) and giving out sets of written instructions combined with visual prompts. They may need a demonstration from you, and sometimes it does help to be "larger than life" with that sort of thing, so perhaps this is what your manager means when she says not to be afraid to make a fool of yourself? However, I have noticed that some nursing home staff are constantly on top note with residents, being relentlessly bright and bubbly and talking at an unpleasantly high volume, and I'm not sure this is the best approach - it can come across as false even to people with quite severe cognitive impairment and I think the residents will find it much easier to relate to you if you act like your natural self. What kind of feedback are you getting from them?
"Suppose a tree fell down, Pooh, when we were underneath it?"
"Suppose it didn't," said Pooh, after careful thought.
Piglet was comforted by this.
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Prosopon
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Re: Self-conscious when facilitating groups

Post by Prosopon » Fri Aug 25, 2017 2:04 pm

lingua_franca wrote:Presumably there are some support workers around when you're running these groups, and you're not the sole staff member there? If yes, it might help if you talked the support workers through the activity you're planning before you get started. They probably know the residents well and will be able to tell who is going to need 1:1 support to take part. Let them take care of as much of the 1:1 support as possible while you concentrate on running the group as a whole.

Some people with dementia find it easier to follow along if there are lots of visuals, so if you haven't got one already, try a picture-based activity timetable (it needs to be large) and giving out sets of written instructions combined with visual prompts. They may need a demonstration from you, and sometimes it does help to be "larger than life" with that sort of thing, so perhaps this is what your manager means when she says not to be afraid to make a fool of yourself? However, I have noticed that some nursing home staff are constantly on top note with residents, being relentlessly bright and bubbly and talking at an unpleasantly high volume, and I'm not sure this is the best approach - it can come across as false even to people with quite severe cognitive impairment and I think the residents will find it much easier to relate to you if you act like your natural self. What kind of feedback are you getting from them?
Thank you for your response, lingua_franca. Unfortunately the carers do not assist with the activities, which is not ideal. Usually I am the only staff member doing it and therefore have to run the group AND assist people.

I've also noticed some care staff are constantly loud and upbeat. I dread coming across those kind of people if I ever have to move into a care home!
"Is this real? Or has this been happening inside my head?"

“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?”

~From Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

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Ruthie
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Re: Self-conscious when facilitating groups

Post by Ruthie » Sat Aug 26, 2017 10:32 pm

What's wrong with being calm and peaceful? I'd have thought that would be a much better atmosphere for people with dementia than constantly clowning around!

I'm a big believer in being yourself. Being quiet and thoughtful is not the same as being under confident. Being loud and gregarious can act as a cover up for under confidence too. Perhaps you could explore some quieter activities that you might be better suited to facilitating and that the residents might enjoy?

Also - have you come across Susan Cain's book, 'Quiet'? It's about introverts and it's really rather brilliant. She has TED talk that is worth listening too.

I'm a big believer in being yourself when you're working with people in a caring role. By all means build your confidence but that does not mean becoming someone you are not.

Ruthie
If God invented marathons to keep people from doing anything more stupid, the triathlon must have taken Him completely by surprise.

Prosopon
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Re: Self-conscious when facilitating groups

Post by Prosopon » Fri Sep 01, 2017 11:02 am

Ruthie wrote:What's wrong with being calm and peaceful? I'd have thought that would be a much better atmosphere for people with dementia than constantly clowning around!

I'm a big believer in being yourself. Being quiet and thoughtful is not the same as being under confident. Being loud and gregarious can act as a cover up for under confidence too. Perhaps you could explore some quieter activities that you might be better suited to facilitating and that the residents might enjoy?

Also - have you come across Susan Cain's book, 'Quiet'? It's about introverts and it's really rather brilliant. She has TED talk that is worth listening too.

I'm a big believer in being yourself when you're working with people in a caring role. By all means build your confidence but that does not mean becoming someone you are not.

Ruthie
Thank you for your response, Ruthie. I don't think there is anything wrong with being calm and peaceful, but my manager seems to! I do want to build up my confidence and be less self-conscious but I suppose in the meantime I will just stick to what I am comfortable with. I have read "Quiet" and loved it. Now might be a good time to re-read it! I'll check out the TED talk too.
"Is this real? Or has this been happening inside my head?"

“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?”

~From Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

Leems
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Re: Self-conscious when facilitating groups

Post by Leems » Mon Dec 11, 2017 10:07 pm

My nursey tips for facilitating groups, having worked with people with dementia for years (as Terry Pratchett said, partly by trial, but mainly by error) and very much echoing the previous posters:

Seriously, be yourself. Tell yourself: there are already a zillion extroverted, dramatic, all singing all dancing people. They are great, but there is only one unique me. Why deprive your care home colleagues and clients of your particular talents by pretending to be someone else? I like the paradigm of the 'gentle rebel' (andymort.com is a favourite). Apply a bit of problem-free thinking to yourself- what real talents do you have that you want to keep nurturing, rather than items on a person specification you're worried you lack?

The most important thing is to actually care about your clients and what you're trying to do with them, and then you'll have quite enough enthusiasm and inspiration.

Practice, practice, practice. Make yourself do public speaking to the whole group, make yourself engage with the most challenged and impaired residents. You'll simply get used to it.

Take what your manager says with a pinch of salt. The residents are not there to 'look busy and occupied' like a workhouse. They are there to live their lives. Listen to what they want: not all residents will want noise. If the manager complains, you can dress it up and say 'their feedback and the evidence suggests they value calm blah blah blah'.

Keep it ultra simple. Find the song everyone knows. Find the game everyone can play.

There is no reason the support workers etc. shouldn't get involved with activities- keep asking them, ask the manager for funding if they want more action, etc. Don't be afraid to be politely persistent. It's quite likely to be in the other team members' job descriptions to get involved in recreational activities. Show them how much more fun it can be.

Have fun! :)

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