By helping to fix up an old piece of furniture, clients have something to focus on and regain a sense of purpose.
Being of an older generation, they probably have more skill in this area than we do. This part of the project is therefore an opportunity for roles to be reversed, with the client becoming the teacher.
What Do Volunteers Do?
You don’t need to be an expert in furniture restoration to help fix up an old chair. Most of the work involves sanding and varnishing, with the odd nail being hammered in or removed. Volunteers work one on one with residents, encouraging them to participate, guiding them, and ensuring tools are used appropriately. Clients can be encouraged to talk about similar projects they have worked on in the past. It is essential to talk to nursing staff about your client’s abilities and idiosyncrasies at the beginning of the session and to pay close attention during the activity to minimise the risk of injury.
Here is a quote from Charlie Ward, a social policy student involved in MIM: I attended a restoration session, which involved ‘jazzing up’ some old furniture with some residents: there I was partnered to work with a gentleman who in previous sessions had displayed some erratic and inconsistent behavior; however it soon became clear how therapeutic this activity was for him. From his previous unpredictable self, he appeared calmed and focused on the task in hand- this for me has been the most rewarding part of my experience with MIM so far.