A few years ago at the facility where I worked our new manager requested that the therapy staff set up something called the wishing tree for residents living in low care.
At first, I was unsure of the idea as I thought there was no way we would be able to grant so many wishes and wondered what if they asked for something that was not attainable? – there might be too much disappointment. But I was pleasantly surprised at how well this idea worked!
Here are some guidelines for hosting a Wishing Tree in your aged care center.
Get Creative with your Wishing Tree
We made two trees as there were at least 80 residents in our care home.
My co-worker got her husband to make a tree out of chipboard and she spray-painted it white.
I found a nice tree branch and sprayed it silver standing it in a decorated pot.
We made little colored hearts for the residents to write their wishes on and assisted the ones who needed some help and hung them with a pretty ribbon on to the branches.
Older people have simple wishes
So, what were some of the wishes?
Older people have simple wishes, unlike when we were younger and wished for things like a better car, a nicer house and maybe some more money.
Special Family Time
A lot of our seniors wished to have a day with their family. We rang the families and tried to set up these days. Some families took Mum or Dad out and those who couldn’t go out we supplied a nice morning or afternoon tea for them. Some families bought in picnic baskets to have with their loved ones and some had special 1:1 quiet time together.
A Special Day Out
A couple in care wanted to go to a local restaurant for lunch so we took them and allowed them some time together dining out. (The residents had to pay their own way, we just made it happen) Two of our residents who loved football requested to go to a game they paid for their own tickets and we took them. We caught the train something they hadn’t experienced for many years both residents were in wheelchairs and just loved the day. We all dressed up in footy colours, had a pie & chips at the football and we took photos of the day and framed one each for them with their football tickets displayed in the corner of the frame they still talk about that day and display their photos proudly in their rooms.
A Skype Call from Abroad
One gentleman wanted to go to England to see his grandchildren. Of course, we could not grant that wish but we set up Skype and had his grandchildren talk to him from England which made him so happy.
A Favourite Meal
Some residents requested a favourite meal which we granted or a glass of champagne with some other friends that lived in the facility, maybe a favourite cake from the local bakery or a favourite chocolate or ice cream.
The wishes were not to hard to grant and most were very simple requests. Of course some wrote on the tree I wish I could see my wife one more time, they were things that they really wished for but knew could never happen. My experience with the Wishing Tree, is that it was a positive and enjoyable project for all involved and the smiles it brought to their faces was really something special.