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3rd of February 2020
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More meaning to life with a cultural person profile

Silva Siponkoski, a professional activity guide with a degree in crafts and art, has a soft spot for culture and older people. She underlines the broad meaning of the word ´culture´: anything from your favourite meat stew to music and theatre is considered to be culture.
Siponkoski, together with other professionals in the AILI-network*, has been researching how information from the RAIsoft LTC-program can be utilized in cultural work with elderly people. As a result a Cultural person profile will be available in spring 2020 for all RAIsoft LTC-program users.

- In autumn 2019 we launched a pilot project on ´cultural person profile´ in 10 big municipalities that partakes in the AILI-network and it was very well received. It was wonderful to notice how care professionals, who have been doing interRAI assessments for a long time, quickly grasped what you can achieve by using the person profile. During our training tour in the municipalities the questions asked weren´t: "Why do we do cultural elderly work?" or "Why should this be coded?" but instead the question asked was: "How can we make this a permanent praxis and function?" and "How do we continue from here?" The cultural person profile raises the client´s personal history profile and highlights what the client really is interested in. In several organisations the methods of operations were changed in accordance to the cultural profile to better serve the clients.

Siponkoski stresses that all data used from the person profiles has been available in the interRAI assessments for a long time.

- It has just not been recognised or utilized in this way before. Many care professionals ask me if the questions in the personal profile are new assessment questions and I answer that they have been there all along. The organisations have already acquired massive data that can be looked upon from a brand new perspective through the new profile. Without knowing what the clients´ preferences are it´s quite common that activities are assigned according to what generation the client is, what he or she "ought to like".

- Often when we talk about generations in Finland we assume that those who were young during the war like certain kind of music and certain kind of literature, but this is not so. A generation may give the frame work for things that probably are familiar to a specific generation, but it´s a whole different matter if he or she likes it.

InterRAI conference in Belgium in February

The World interRAI Conference 2020 is held in Leuven, Belgium first week of February. One of the presenters is Silva Siponkoski.

- Professor Harriet Finne-Soveri, the vice president of interRAI International research organisation encouraged me to send an abstract to the seminar. I will talk about cultural elderly work based on RAI data on two occasions. The title of my speech is "Utilization of RAI-LTC Information to support older people´s cultural rights and wellbeing in cooperation between municipalities, at a national level." In other words, I will talk about what kind of data can be highlighted with the cultural person profile and how this information can be used to bring new experiences and content into the lives of the clients.

Not only for older people

- My own approach sprung from the elderly work. As a professional in the cultural field I wanted to find methods and tools to bring meaningfulness and content in the lives of the elderly people in long term care. Content that meets their wishes and needs. For the elderly who still live at home we needed similar kind of information. It would be great if we could develop a scale assessment of the cultural person profile. This would enable utilizing it in a more extensive way with clients who are assessed by other RAI-tools. In addition, mapping out these themes is also beneficial in the work with individuals with developmental disabilities.

- The significance of a cultural person profile is even greater then, because often it concerns people who spend years and years in institutions, a whole lifetime of a disabled person.

Siponkoski says that the person profile can be used in several ways.

- The starting point is naturally the individual and the fact that a person´s everyday life is filled with a meaningful content that he/she is interested in. It can be a favourite dish, some favourite music, the continuing of a preferred activity/hobby or something that relates to the person´s professional know-how and skill.

Siponkoski takes "Martin, 80 years old" as an example.

- The person profile could give us that "Martin", an 80-year old man suffering from dementia, is a retired biology teacher. Based on this information one could conclude that "Martin" might be interested in the Latin names of birds and their migrations or he might be interested in studying maps on how certain bird breeds spread.

This same data collected from an interRAI assessment can be utilized when planning outsourcing services.

- The cultural person profile gives actual information about what the clients are interested in, what their goals are and what they would like to do. This is valuable information when planning cultural and art-related activities for the clients and this way the outsourced service can answer to a genuine need.

Reading skills and tools

Siponkoski sees a lot of possibilities for the cultural person profile but acknowledges that it takes some orientation and education to learn how to "read" the profile.

- The know-how of care workers needs affirmation. The cultural person profile is an excellent tool but it is not self-explanatory. It requires a little bit of a new approach and insight of the user in utilizing the profile and its information to see what it contains and which tools it gives to develop the everyday life. Together with the AILI-network registration experts we developed instructions on how to use the cultural person profile as a support to RAI-LTC. The purpose of the cultural person profile and its content is described in the instructions. The following things are highlighted:

1. Use the data from the profile to plan the care work and everyday life
2. Ponder if the activities and functions are in accordance with the client´s wants and background.
3. Consider if your clients capacity is in relation to a meaningful everyday life and sensible activities.

Siponkoski doesn´t stop there.

- The cultural person profile contains elements to boost and develop the Health and Wellbeing projects in the municipalities (HYTE-work). For a cooperation between different sectors a broader data base is needed. It doesn´t solve the problems directly but it helps widen the data base for the indicators.

The cultural aspect in utilizing RAI-data is meaningful and is a valuable addition when considering the holistic observation of clients.
The registration experts of the AILI municipalities as well as the experts at the Finnish National Institute of Health and Wellbeing find the development work and profile excellent.