Wahiawa Savvy Seniors

Friday, March 1, 2013

We are proud to announce Gabriele Chapman is our March winner!  Gabriele’s idea “Wahiawa Savvy Seniors” is to bring iPad therapy to the patients at the Wahiawa General Hospital Senior Behavioral Health unit.

These seniors have severe behavioral, emotional or mental conditions such as dementia, depression, and various personality disorders.    Since it is a psychiatric ward, it can be a very dreary place. Only their loved ones are permitted to visit the facility, and unlike senior centers or long term care facilities, our patients do not get to go outside, watch T.V. in their rooms, or enjoy outside visitors such as singing groups, church groups, or animals.   Gabriele let us know that since she has worked there, it has been her goal to get to know each delightful patient and figure out which things bring them a bit of happiness. To do this, she often used her iPad, and it has become indispensable to her in connecting with the patients on a personal level and showing them that they are valuable. 

What Gabriele loves about iPad “therapy” is its spontaneity.  There are so many different types of Apps, she feels she can find something to please everyone. For example, one day she heard a patient singing “Let me call you sweetheart.” In seconds, she had the lyrics and music on her iPad, and they did a little sing-a-long. For patients on isolation, she has used her iPad to watch old sitcoms with them, play games and listen to their favorite music. For a dementia patient who routinely stands up and serenades us with the Chinese national anthem (complete with hand gestures), Gabriele streamed Chinese songs through her music App.  When one patient shared that her son was a pastor of a local church, she quickly found the church’s website and showed her pictures of her son and his family. They could even have the option to stream and listen to the sermons. 

Gabriele has also used her iPad for cognitive therapy by using Apps which prompt the patients to think by recognizing various objects and categories. She is also using her iPad to try different interventions with dementia patients to see if they actually can learn new information with repetition combined with images.   More cognizant patients, Gabriele states, can connect with the outside world by reading the newspaper and magazines. One patient loved to read the obituaries, but her poor eyesight made this an exhausting task so she found the Honolulu obituaries on her iPad in extra large font. 

For entertainment, the options are endless. Apps exist for painting, coloring, virtual cooking baking, games, and so on.  One patient was virtually unresponsive, lost in her world of advanced dementia. Gabriele managed to get her eyes to focus on her iPad with a slideshow of kittens. For one brief second, she became lucid. Her eyes lit up, she smiled, and said, “Oh..look at them. They are so cute!” Moments like this are priceless, and for this reason Gabriele would love to be able to make iPads available for her unit.  Gabriele will use the $1000 grant to purchase two iPads for her unit. They will be supervised and safeguarded  by the SBH social worker, who will lock them in her office at the end of each day. 

Awesome Foundation of Oahu is proud to be a part of Gabriele’s Awesome Idea!