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Communicating with Nancy

More than smiles.

Communicating with Nancy

On her first day at Gillawarna Village residential aged care home, Laughter Care performer Bonnie headed towards Nancy’s room. Stephen, a carer at Gillawarna Village, looked somewhat concerned and reluctant. “Nancy never leaves her room, she rarely engages, is very confused and somewhat depressed.” Bonnie’s eyes lit up as she exclaimed, “Let’s visit her!” 

Reassured by Bonnie’s enthusiasm, they knocked on Nancy’s door.  The room felt gloomy and dark; the curtains were drawn, both at the window and between the two beds that divided the shared room.  Nancy was alone and looked anxious, as she nervously sifted through a few papers and the few possessions she had in her bedside drawer.   

Yet Nancy’s eyes immediately widened at the site of Bonnie standing at the doorway, in her 1950’s red, tartan dress buttoned from top to bottom.  Nancy smiled as she noticed Bonnie’s colourful yellow, stripy socks, which clashed stupendously.  She then laughed and exclaimed, “Don’t you look marvellous!” 

Bonnie moved closer and introduced herself, commenting on the beautiful cardigan Nancy was wearing.  Nancy looked down at herself and then back at Bonnie, surprised, as though she hadn’t received a compliment in some time.

She smiled and invited Bonnie to sit with her. Before long Bonnie and Nancy were talking about various topics; from tartans, to letter writing, to summer clothes, and to Mothers that didn’t always approve. 

It didn’t take long for Nancy to open up with Bonnie. Nancy began relaying stories of when she would go Ballroom Dancing as a young girl.  Bonnie pulled out a small speaker from her colourful bag and played some ballroom music. She invited Nancy to dance.  Nancy’s eyes showed trust in her new-found friend, and together, next to her bed, they held hands and slowly danced. 

Nancy’s face was vibrant and happy as she looked into Bonnie’s sincere eyes and occasionally laughed at Bonnie’s attempts to keep up.  Bonnie was surprised to see several staff members crowded at Nancy’s doorway, each with huge smiles of surprise on their faces and taking photos in disbelief.  Nancy had not engaged much in recent times.

A new friendship was born… one that, in future weeks with regular visits, resulted in Nancy finally leaving her room with Bonnie to go on other ‘adventures’ together.