Seeing photos of people who are special to us can be comforting, help us feel more connected and ease loneliness. This guidance shows you how to create a photo collage of people who are important in a person’s life that can be used to foster this sense of greater connection to our loved ones. This project is likely to be carried out over a number of days and has value in the process of creating the collage as well as in the end product.
What you need
- Photographs of people who are special in the person’s life
- Access to a printer or printing service (which can be found online)
- A large piece of strong paper, card or photo frame (a photo album or scrap book can alternatively be used)
- Glue or double-sided sticky tape
Guidance and instructions
- Throughout – involve the person as much as they would like to and in the way that they are most able to.
- Make a list of who to include in the collage. This might include family, friends, support staff and teachers and any others who have a valuable role to play in the person’s life.
- Go through any pictures that you already have of people on your list and, together choose a picture of each person. This can provide a great opportunity for sharing and talking about the people and places in the photos. Observe for any emotional reactions to the pictures and consider what choices the person is ‘telling you’ about whether or not it should be included.
- Help the person obtain any photos that they are missing. Support them in explaining the project and in asking for photos to be sent to them.
- Print the pictures, ensuring that the quality and size is sufficient for the person to see.
- Arrange the pictures on the paper, card or frame. Think about how widely apart to space the pictures so as to enable the person to focus and visually process one picture at a time, if they need to.
- You may want to write or print the name of the person and some information about them in the photo so that they can be used by others to support interactions.
- Decide where to position the finished piece. Ideally this will be somewhere that the person can choose when they want to look at it, but also where they can choose when not to look at it.
- If you have any concerns that having the pictures on the wall will cause any distress or be overwhelming emotionally or for processing capacity, consider using a photo album or scrap book instead so that one page can be looked at, one at a time, in isolation of the rest.
- Think about how the person can request to look at the pictures. This could be about placing it somewhere they can access and point to easily.
- Remember to offer the opportunity to look at the pictures over time and to add to the collage as new important people arrive in their life.
This can also be adapted for people with visual impairment to be an ‘audio collage’, with clips of people speaking captured on video, saved onto a voice recorder of a mobile device or a Talking Photo Album. However, please ensure that this will not cause confusion e.g. if the person is unable to understand that the voice is coming from a device and that the speaker is not actually present, this could be quite distressing.
What to observe, assess and record
- The person’s reactions to looking at pictures of different people.
- How the person shows when they want to look at the pictures.
- Do they like sharing the pictures with others?
- Do they like other people talking with them about the pictures and commenting on them?
© Julie Calveley, PhD, BSc(Hons) Psychology, Registered Nurse Learning Disabilities, NAC Director
Email: [email protected]
Created December 2020