11 June 2018

Impulses and Stimuli with Cultural Elderly Work

Silva Siponkoski, with a degree in applied arts and guidance activity, arranged together with Raisoft two webinars about cultural elderly work at the end of April. The webinars sparked a lot of interest.
The content of both webinars were similar but the perspectives were different. In the first webinar Siponkoski was addressing professionals within the cultural field whereas the second webinar was particularly directed to professionals within the health care business.
The theme of both webinars was how to utilize the information provided by Long Term Care (LTC) RAI-assessments in the cultural work for elderly people.

- I have two passions: culture and spreadsheets. RAI combines both in a great way, Siponkoski laughs and underlines the extent of the term ´culture'.

- Culture is not only music and theatre but the whole range of life. A tasty traditional Finnish beef soup can be an important part of a cultural food experience for an elderly person.
Everyone who uses RAI assessments in their work knows that RAI collects a lot of information. The goal is to maximize and use the data in a versatile way and simply to make the most out of it. Siponkoski's perspective is a new and welcomed way to utilize the collected data.

- This webinar was useful for me as well. It's almost embarrassing that I haven't thought about using the data in this fashion before. The emphasis has been on the somatic part. Goes to show that you can learn something new about RAI all the time, says Mervi Kivistö, leading RAI training expert.

Silva Siponkoski says that even though the notion 'cultural elderly work´ isn't very well established yet, the work itself has a long history and goes all the way back to Florence Nightingale.

- Already since her time we have talked about how patients need more than just necessary care. Different types of performances, music, theatre, food and for instance gardening help support and speed up the well-being and recovery of a patient.

Measurability using RAI?

Siponkoski sees plenty of opportunities in utilizing the RAI data.

- RAI provides a lot of information about a client: gender, profession, hobbies, civil status, etc., etc. Often when talking about different generations we think that all "who were young during the war" love accordion music and traditional Finnish songs. This is not true though. A generation gives a frame of reference to ideas and thoughts that probably are familiar to the person of that generation. If the person likes it or not is a completely different story.

- If RAI tells us for instance that "Martti", age 80, used to be a biology teacher, a discussion about birds´migration, distribution or Latin names can be highly invigorating for him, Siponkoski explains and hopes that RAI will bring the much needed measurability aspect to the cultural field.

- This is kind of contradictory. The core of cultural work is to give individuals the freedom to express themselves. That is a value in itself with no economic gains. On the other hand, as artists and people in the cultural line of business need new possibilities and business ideas, the RAI-assessment could help verify how cultural work affects the well-being of people, maybe even measured in money. RAI is already an established tool in elderly work so assessing and verifying the effects of cultural elderly work would only be a new dimension in the use of a familiar tool, Siponkoski predicts and hopes that the cultural contribution would be recognized also in Finland when you measure well-being.

- There would be an increase in the value of cultural elderly work and a greater understanding of its importance if it could be proven to bring big savings and at the same time improve the quality of life.
Criteria for cultural elderly work

Silva Siponkoski hopes for a trade-marked professional title and clear standards for the cultural elderly work.

- As of now the field is quite unruly. There are many different job titles out there and if there are no set criteria and schooling for this kind of work, the wheel is practically invented anew every time from everyone's own perspective. The work is not advancing. At the moment the cultural elderly work is mostly done on a volunteer basis stemming from personal interests and hobbies. This is an important and valuable work but the cultural elderly work should not be solely hobby based. Educated professionals have a broad repertoire and the knowledge to provide various experiences to all senses – preferably utilizing the information provided by RAI, Siponkoski says.