The Christmas season is almost upon us, and while it can be a wondrous, exciting and festive occasion celebrated throughout the world, if you are living with a disability or are caring for someone with a disability, the silly season can bring with it, its own challenges.
While everyone else is rushing about finding presents, heading to Christmas parties and looking forward to a few well-earned days off with family and friends, when you are living with a disability it can be difficult to shake the anxiety of another year going by with little changes to the day to day problems and circumstances that you cannot take a break from. The role of carers are crucial over the festive season and while support workers and carers are motivated to ensure their clients are supported and to help them get into the festive spirit, with so many things to consider when arranging activities; like their interests, health conditions, mobility and keeping them cool during the heat of summer, it can be difficult to know where to start.
At Real Community Services we recognise that it can be difficult for a care giver to find the time to move beyond the immediate care needs of a client, to plan meaningful activities and to help them prepare for a wonderful and safe festive season. To help you get started our team have put together 8 activities for carers to enjoy with disability clients during the festive season. At Real Community Services we also understand that Christmas is not celebrated by everyone.
Routines are important to clients with disability allowing them a measure of control and calmness in knowing what will happen, so it’s understandable that special occasions like Christmas can bring with it a little anxiety of the unknown or disruption to the calmness of day-to-day life. Spending time with your client to recognise what they like / don’t like about the festive season is a good starting point. Also having an understanding on where they will be on Christmas Day can help you better understand how to help them prepare.
From here you can create a ‘Christmas Activity Calendar’ using it as a count down to Christmas Day and giving them something to look forward to as every day from the 1st of December gets marked off. There are some great Christmas activity calendar ideas on Etsy that you can use to create your on unique calendar!
Helping your client to decorate their home or room with Christmas decorations is a simple but effective way to begin building the excitement of Christmas no matter their age. If they do not have a box of decorations stored from previous years a visit to the $2 shop can affordably acquire what you need or instead you can spend time creating decorations together that they can continue with making them on their own. There is nothing like lights on a Christmas tree to make the magic of Christmas begin.
With the age of social media, the giving (and receiving) of Christmas cards is all but lost. Yet nothing can ebb the magic you feel when you open your letter box to a special letter or hand-written card during Christmas. And it’s a magic you can re-live as you place them on your dresser or hang them from string on your wall. A great way to increase your client’s chance of receiving a card is to get them started early writing or even encourage them to make their own unique Christmas cards in advance. There are plenty of Christmas card ideas to be found online. If you can, get in touch with family members and encourage them to also sending cards as this can make people feel loved and cared for even if they may not see get to see all their family during Christmas.
Depending on the mobility and location of your client, Christmas in Brisbane and in nearby towns is an exciting experience offering plenty of free Christmas events and markets that you can take your client to during the festive season. Many of these events start as early as November and while many can be outdoors, planning to visit the event early in the morning or late in the afternoon to avoid the crowds and escape the heat can be a great idea. Shopping Centres are also filled with local Christmas events and Christmas cheer with the welcome of air conditioning to escape the heat and if you get in before the School Holidays start your client get have their picture taken with taken with Santa without having to line up for hours in a cue.
Christmas shopping is a great idea to escape the heat and to install some Christmas cheer – especially if you get in early, avoiding the crowds in the week before Christmas when school holidays start. Shopping Centres start decorating the stores in Mid-November so it’s hard not to get into the spirit. To make the process smoother, before you head to the shops work with your client to create a Christmas gift list with Christmas gift ideas, noting people they would like to buy a gift for, allocating a Christmas gift budget for each person. If your client prefers to avoid the shopping centres during Christmas, you can help them to find the perfect Christmas gift online or alternatively you could locate a local Christmas market close by which would make for a fun morning out with unique Christmas Gifts on offer.
If your client will be spending time with family on Christmas Day, start planning with them what they would like to wear. It’s a festive occasion so you can both work together to decorate existing clothing or simply decide on the outfit well in advance. This will make your role at as a care giver a lot easier as you assist each of your clients in getting dressed and ready for the day with their families and making them feel more comfortable and prepared on the day.
Preparing Christmas Baking Gifts like Christmas cookies, White Christmas and other Christmas baking ideas can be a fun activity to do with your client in the comfort of their own home. If the space is not available, consider some Christmas craft ideas which can easily be garnered from websites like Pinterest that will also make great home-made gift items for loved ones or treats to bring along with them to enjoy together on Christmas Day.
The build up to Christmas can be an exciting time and Christmas Day, while enjoyable, can go by too quickly and the normal routine (let’s face it) can be without the same excitement factor. One way to make the Christmas last is by creating memories. Take photos throughout the lead up to Christmas Day of all the activities you did together, of the Christmas decorations, the Christmas tree, pictures with Santa, opening presents and really encourage family members to take photos and send them through. Create a Christmas Memory Scrapbook with comments under each picture, buy a glue gun from Spotlight and paste in some of the Christmas craft and decorations made for your client to flip through and relive the magic of Christmas when their spirits are low.