It is a space for our gentlemen to reminisce about the past, their working occupations, cars, and time spent in the forces. It is a time for them to chat about their lives, how times have changed, the subjects are endless.
‘Men’s Shed’ is an international organisation which started in Australia in the 1990s and is gradually spreading around the world, enriching men’s lives as it grows. There are National Men’s Sheds Associations in Australia, Canada, Denmark, New Zealand, Ireland, the UK, Scotland, and Wales with Men’s Sheds in other countries too such as the USA and Sweden.
It is estimated that the number of Men’s Sheds globally is approaching 1,800 supporting an estimated 100,000 men.
We hope in time, as we develop, to become a part of the official Men’s Shed organisation. Because their objectives which include advancing the health and well-being and creating opportunities for the men to contribute to their local communities is exactly what we at Towerview Care what to promote with our group as well. Our gentlemen have already suggested that we visit other sheds to compare work and pick-up new ideas.
Why do the men get their own club?
In most senior communities, ladies outnumber the gentlemen. The men have spent their youth as the family breadwinner. Their lives centred on family, work, and when time permitted, hobbies and clubs. Our Men’s Shed is an excellent way for our gentlemen to engage with each other familiarly and purposefully.
Our Men’s Shed has been running for a few months now. The gentlemen involved have started to form a bond with each other and our Psychologist Fiona Southgate and Activities Coordinator Trina Dungavel.
Aim of Activity:
The group will bring together men who may enjoy getting out of the home and meeting others for a hot drink and to pursue practical interests in the company of others. Garden sheds can be a hive of activity for many a man, this group aims to take that activity but to open it up to others in pursuit of their own or shared activities. The groups’ objectives are to have fun, socialise, build friendships, and share skills. Men’s shed will be a wellbeing opportunity.
This week in the Men’s Shed they have been hard at work building two air fix models, one of a ship and the other a plane.
Fiona explained, “It is reminiscence-based work, but it is person-led, we are not attaching memories to the activity, rather, we provide the activity and look for opportunity in their comments and conversation, to pull on their own memories and to nurture these fragile threads by weaving in our own memories and knowledge of the time and era to which our gentlemen belong. The memories they shared for this activity concerned, tying the models with string, or more specifically for one man, fishing line, and hanging them from the ceiling. Cliff was laughing at one gentleman’s memory and added, “me and me brother had a whole dog fight going on up there”.
Fiona went on to say, “They remembered the little pots of enamel paint that you would buy to paint them, the difficulty in opening them and the trouble you’d be in when the paint went everywhere or if you’d glued the wrong parts, the emery boards used to sand the edges down where you’d taken them out of the plastic frame, the hours spent making them and how cheap they used to be. Cliff excitedly quizzed one of the other gents about the details of the building with, “do you remember how to get the transfers off?
And immediately answered his own question with a smile “you have to soak them in water!”
Men’s Shed Projects
In the past few months, the Men’s Shed has worked on various projects, most notably during the festive season they worked on evergreen wreaths over weeks. I asked Fiona how the Men’s shed projects are picked and in particular, how this model building one came about.
Fiona said, “The group itself pick what projects they would like to work on and have meetings to vote on what they do next. However, what we have done with the model making project is worked on one man’s memories (Cliff’s), from an individual psychology session and then developed this into a group activity.
Cliff can share his memories with the wider group now that he has recovered from the initial crisis he was in when he first came to live with us. Cliff lost his mother this year, and initially, psychology work was individual and around grief and loss. Cliff seemed to seek out the company of other men and the group was a natural development for Cliff, a move away from the individual and an opportunity to build relationships with others, become creative and engaged in an activity, and importantly to feel a part of something bigger than Towerview Care, and the small group activity. Cliff seems to enjoy the group and interacts with positive emotions such as pride, joy and laughter.
It’s definitely a project we will be coming back to later in the year as all the gentlemen really enjoyed it. Personally, I got more glue and paint on my hands than on my plane!!! Much to the amusement of the gentlemen. Turns out it is rather fiddly. The patience of a saint is required, and Trina is definitely saintlier than I!”
What is Reminiscence
Reminiscence based work means sharing life experiences, memories and stories from an individual’s past. More often than not, someone with dementia will remember things from many years ago with more ease, than recalling events from yesterday. Reminiscence draws on this strength, finding other ways to access the memories that we know are still there but adrift and difficult to find. Reminiscence can help people with dementia return to a common shore, and to feel confident again in their story and skills and the person they are. We as staff can become the lighthouse, showing them and guiding them back to shore, if only for a brief while.
Talking about the past can also bring up happy memories and good feelings, as well as more difficult and traumatic times. Careful and delicate support can mean that these memories are also acknowledged and worked through which can provide comfort. The experience of this can be wonderful in itself, for the staff supporting them and for the families who may feel that these times have been lost to them and their loved one. It is often with the support of families that we are able to carefully add to the memories or encourage further revelations, through informal interview with Fiona.
Men’s Shed next week will all be about Fat balls!! Tune in, and we might just share our secret recipe!