West Lake Terrace launches writing program for residents


Activity provides forum for residents’ creativity to flourish

West Lake Terrace has launched an innovative storytelling program that’s helping residents “replace the pressure to remember with the freedom to imagine.”

Janie Butler, the Prince Edward County long-term care home’s life enrichment co-ordinator, started the activity about two months ago after coming across the U.S.-based TimeSlips program online.

The program is geared towards residents with Alzheimer’s disease and related dementia but it is open to all residents.

The TimeSlips website provides a myriad of photos that can be downloaded. As part of the program, people view the photos and then write a story that explains the image.

What’s most exciting about the program, which the home calls Creative Story Writing, is the fact that residents creativity is blossoming, Butler says, adding that the program can be adjusted for one-to-one programming.

“The residents are really enjoying the program and we have some wonderful stories that they have created,” she tells The OMNIway.

For example, one photo from the 1920s features a group of women in short skirts – an unusual style for the time – dancing. Women who formed this subculture at the time were called “flappers”.

Five residents involved with the program, working with life enrichment aide Makenzie Struthers-Mattis, created a story about how a woman’s grandchildren asked her about a dress in her closet. So the grandmother tells them about the dress, which leads to her teaching her grandchildren how to dance.

The program, which is hosted every other Thursday, is becoming a big attraction at West Lake Terrace, Butler says.

“The residents look forward to the program and they share a lot of laughs – it’s just something different for them to do,” Butler says. “When I announce it in the morning, you can hear the residents say, ‘I have to remember to go to Creative Story Writing.’”

There is also training and certification available through TimeSlips. Butler says she plans to become certified this year.

Click here to learn more about TimeSlips.

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