Wish Granting – 5 tips to make them come true

News & Blog

Stay up to date on what’s going on in the world of enhancing life in senior care.

Wish Granting – 5 tips to make them come true

Posted on January 25, 2011

Wish granting and answering residents personal requests is in the heart of any caregiver, wellness or activity director and community staff. They are often assimilated to the idea of the bucket list. Although that concept brought enough attention to have its own movie in the 2007 flick with Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman, this idea stems from the nature of retirement communities: providing personalized support and engaging lives to our loved ones.

An interesting article from the New York Times describes the many benefits from answering Alzheimer residents needs. It also puts these projects in perspective when looking at all the other research being done. One should not forget that these programs also work very well in other types of communities such as independent living, assisted living…
“There’s actually better evidence and more significant results in caregiver interventions than there is in anything to treat this disease so far,” said Lisa P. Gwyther, education director for the Bryan Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center at Duke University. The National Institute on Aging and the Administration on Aging are now financing caregiving studies on “things that just kind of make the life of an Alzheimer’s patient and his or her caregiver less burdensome,” said Sidney M. Stahl, chief of the Individual Behavioral Processes branch of the Institute on Aging. “At least initially, these seem to be good nonpharmacological techniques.”

Techniques include using food, scheduling, art, music and exercise to generate positive emotions; engaging patients in activities that salvage fragments of their skills; and helping caregivers be more accepting and competent.
There are event organizations that specialize in honoring “requests from any of our elder citizens (generally 65 and over), regardless of where they reside, providing they (or one of their family members) are willing to help. “

But how can a community actually build and sustainably maintain a wish program? Here are five tips to make these successful:

  • Include everyone: Having the support of the entire community will help develop the program and stir in creativity. Any person that has contact with residents should be included, as it will help get as many requests as possible. Getting the approval and help from the family will make the fulfillment of requests even more personalized.
  • Create a wish tree or wish well: It is nice to physically symbolize the program with a tree, a well or even a simple box to gather the wishes. They can also be transmitted directly to the staff. They would then be reviewed and assessed on a monthly or quarterly basis.
  • Include wishes in life bios: As more and more communities start life bio programs or projects where the lives of the residents are recorded and archived, this also offers an opportunity to understand better the background of the residents’ wishes, which will then help the program supervisor fulfill the requests.
  • Be bold in the initiatives to raise funds. As mentioned previously, these wishes are often very personal and important to residents. So too should the support this program gets from the community. Staff members shouldn’t hesitate to create events and raffles to raise funds; and including all services of the community such as dining, marketing… In the end, this is for a very noble cause: answering resident’s dearest wishes
  • Accept any wishes – any: Most of them are relatively easy. The other ones are the ones that make that type of program unique and resident-centered. Mary Chapman, executive director of the Elderly Wish Foundation tells us that: “What’s interesting about the wishes is that they are small in nature but so large in the hearts of the people we give them to. We’ve been doing this for 10 years and it’s a really wonderful thing.” We’ve heard of a resident asking for a chocolate bath or a plane ride, but they are the ones that also make these programs special and will help promote the program and the community further.

Sooo, where’s the chocolate??? 😉