Charmaine Coleman loves working with residents in Sumac House. From their morning smiles to the stories and hugs they freely offer, working in one of the Houses’ two dementia units brings her joy and satisfaction. Over the years, she has dreamed of building something special to reciprocate those feelings.
Coleman is a resident assistant (RA) who has worked in the Houses of Providence for 16 years, with seven of them in Sumac House. At a recent conference, she learned how colour has a positive effect on residents living with dementia. Bright colours can invite connection, instill a sense of welcoming and promote happiness.
In June, Coleman introduced the idea of Colour Days for Juniper and Sumac Houses. People living, working and visiting in the units are encouraged to dress in the designated colour of the day, six days a week.
“I wanted to do something for the residents, and also something that could bring the staff together as a big team with laughter and fun,” says Coleman.
The RAs will dress residents in that day’s colour if they have something in their closet that has even a hint of the right shade.
For residents who are more communicative, RAs show them possible options and encourage residents to make their own decisions on what to wear.
“We get residents energized and smiling by dancing and singing in our matching colours,” says Coleman.
“It’s amazing how a little thing can get people so excited.”
Coleman is equally pleased that family members, personal caregivers and volunteers are also getting into the spirit, as are staff from other units.
“It makes me very emotional, to think that we can touch people in this way. I’m privileged that after 16 years I was able to finally create something special for my Houses family.”