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Nuestra Casa home, Madrid

Silvia Concejal Cabrero, Occupational Therapist.

 “The best thing is being able to meet people who have had such a long and interesting life and being able to help them to carry on storing satisfying moments in their memory.”

 

Nuestra Casa home, Madrid
How long have you worked at the home?

Since 2001.

What is 24 hours in the home like?

Well, I think it is similar to a house with a big family. There is time for sport, leisure, chores, spending some time working… 

It isn't just a case of carrying out treatments with our residents; we also have a close relationship with them. We try to make sure that with their activities they feel like they are in a new home and that these cover all of their functional, cognitive and psychological needs.

 

What do you like most about your job?

The best thing is being able to meet people who have had such a long and interesting life and being able to help them to carry on storing satisfying moments in their memory. Receiving their affection and gratitude.

 

What activities are provided in the home?

It would be impossible to describe all of the activities we offer in the centre in a few words. To give you an idea, there are several daily activity programmes provided by the occupational therapy, physiotherapy, sociocultural animation and psychology departments that are intended to cover the physical, psychological, cognitive and social needs of our residents. These are weekly activities and treatments that help them to have a routine in their lives and so orientate themselves. 

As well as these programmes, there are special activities related to festivals throughout the year (Carnival, Christmas, San Isidro…) and the birthdays of the residents, at which the interdisciplinary team coordinates so that the users can enjoy music, theatre, competitions, food…

Thanks to the 'Home Fridays' lecture programme we have been able to open the home up to the outside world and it gives us the chance to welcome illustrious people from all fields of culture, sport and engineering, amongst others. They have helped us to discover more about our world and bring us closer to past, present and future events, helping the mind to wander to horizons that until now we had not imagined.

 

What activities do the residents like most?

It's hard to pick one in particular from all of the ones on offer; our residents' interests are varied, but I suppose that the activities that cause the most excitement and that the most people take part in are the special ones relating to music. 

They are also adapted to the capacities of all of the residents which means that they can be enjoyed by the ones who have cognitive impairment and the ones who do not. Music is a universal language that everyone enjoys.

 

And also the internet, how has technology come to the older people?

Yes, the occupational therapy activities include a computer workshop that generates a lot of interest among our residents. This has been made possible by the donation of laptop computers by the Fundación de Esther Koplowitz

Since then our residents have learnt to communicate with their families through the internet, consult websites that interest them and have been able to revisit the towns and streets where they were born with Google Earth. It stimulates their memory and they write articles for the centre's magazine. They all feel very satisfied at being able to handle a technology that until now they saw as something unattainable that wasn't for them. It makes them feel more integrated in contemporary society.

Do you have any stories you would like to share?

After so many years of work my mind is full of good memories, but I would like to share one story that happened at the carnival party about three years ago. 

We had chosen Snow White and the Seven Dwarves as the theme for that year, and like every year, the residents and the team had dressed up for the occasion. To start the party we were going to screen a performance of the traditional tale, but our AV equipment broke down and we found ourselves stuck in front of almost ninety expectant residents. 

So, between the whole team we decided to turn into actors and put the show on ourselves, without rehearsals or learning any lines. Surprisingly we improvised and managed to make sure the show went on. We felt great when the show ended and we took the applause. 

The truth is we had a lot of fun and all of the residents congratulated us. Lots of them asked us how much we had rehearsed to do it as well, and when we said we hadn't they couldn't believe it. 

They said it was the best one of all the parties they had been to in the centre, and that we had given them years of life with it. It was really nice to hear those words, especially for something so spontaneous.

 

 

What do you think of the contribution by the Fundación de Esther Koplowitz to this project?

I have been at the centre since it opened and for all of these years the Fundación has always been present to improve the quality of life of our residents, listening to them and being aware of their concerns. 

It has got involved in organising activities for all of them, and has also got involved in taking care of the needs of each individual. The Fundación de Esther Koplowitz is a very active part of the life of the residence and our residents are very fond of it.