There are many ways of bringing ordinary and even ‘mundane’ activities into meaningful interactions which support emotional wellbeing and quality of life. Water provides an easily accessible and free medium through which to explore and engage with the world through the senses.
What you need
- Water safe objects and containers such as toys, jugs, bowls and mugs
- Washing up liquid or soap (check for allergies and whether soaps will cause skin problems
- Warm water (check temperature carefully)
- A washing up bowl
- Sponges, cloths and brushes for both of you to use
- If the person uses a wheelchair, a lap tray and accessible table or kitchen table
Guidance and instructions
- Check that your own needs are attended to, that you feel calm and able to tune into the person’s responses.
- Ensure that the person is comfortable and positioned appropriately.
- Position yourself so that you can easily see the person and that they can see you.
- Observe for the person’s responses to everything that happens throughout.
- Check temperature of hands throughout.
- Fill the sink or a large bowl with water and soap as wanted together.
- Offer objects and containers.
- Try talking about what is happening and what the person is doing. Also try spending time in comfortable silence and noticing how it feels to you. Observe how the person is responding.
- You might want to try join in with what the person does. If they appear to like the texture of bubbles, try putting some suds on their arm. If they splash, swirl and swish about, you can too. If they bang a rhythm with an object then you could sing along to it, or play your own ‘drum’ alongside them.
- When ending the activity make sure hands are clean and dry and moisturise as necessary.
This activity can be also be done with real dishes. Ensure the person has safe things to wash and experiment with. For example spoons, wooden crockery, plastic items and small pans. Remember that this activity is about the experience – it is definitely not about the person doing a perfect job of getting the dishes sparkling!
What to observe, assess and record
- How is the person before you start?
- Does the activity appear to be enjoyable?
- How do they respond while water is poured? Do they appear to respond to the sound? Or the appearance of bubbles?
- Is the person exploring the tactile elements of the water, bubbles, sponge or brush and objects. Or the sounds they or you make hitting objects together?
- Does the person appear to enjoy the smells? Could this be explored further next time, e.g. by adding different scented soaps or lotions (check for allergies). Do not use essential oils unless you have checked with an appropriate health care professional.
- How does the person respond when you join in with what they’re doing?
- Could any effects have been in response to your reactions and interaction?
- Remember that it is possible for a reaction to be felt internally but not be observable.
- How did you feel?
- If washing up, how did it feel to slow down and do an activity that can be seen as a ‘chore’ or ‘functional’ in an interactive way?
© Rosie Mockford, Registered Nurse Learning Disabilities, Inclusion Gloucestershire
Email: [email protected]
Created October 2020