Catasauqua Press

Tuesday, November 19, 2019
CONTRIBUTED PHOTONancy Clee, left, Fellowship Community memory care specialist, and Addyson Young, right, ArtsQuest improv class comedian and instructor. CONTRIBUTED PHOTONancy Clee, left, Fellowship Community memory care specialist, and Addyson Young, right, ArtsQuest improv class comedian and instructor.

Fellowship Community, ArtsQuest present dementia improv program

Saturday, October 12, 2019 by The Press in Focus

Fellowship Community, a continuing care retirement community, is partnering with ArtsQuest to present a dementia improv program for care partners of those with dementia.

The “Dementia Improv Program” is at 7 p.m. Oct, 21, Zentz Community Center, Fellowship Community, 3020 Fellowship Drive, Whitehall.

To register: FellowshipCommunity.com.

The collaborative program will include a review of the symptoms of dementia and an interactive learning experience using improv guidelines as a best practice for communicating.

Nancy Clee, RN-BC, MSN, Fellowship Community memory care specialist, researched the similarities between improv and caring for people with dementia.

“The skills gained during the session should help alleviate undue communication stress,” Clee said.

Clee attended a dementia improv class in Pittsburgh and thought that Fellowship Community should host a similar event to help the Lehigh Valley community.

Clee had research, education and experience in dementia, but had no knowledge of improv. She attended an ArtsQuest improv class where she met improv comedian and instructor Addyson Young and discussed developing the program.

Many of the guidelines for comedy improv are helpful in teaching people how to best communicate with loved ones affected by memory loss.

According to Young, the most important guideline for improv is the “yes and” theory. It’s an important element in improv where scenes and characters change quickly.

Comedians and care partners can have the ability to keep lines of communication open and encourage conversation. Clee has implemented the practice and finds it beneficial in working with residents.

Said Clee, “Join those with memory loss in their reality. If someone believes they are 16 and in high school instead of 91 with failing health, just go along with it.”

“At Fellowship Community, we bring innovative programs to our campus and to the local community. We are thankful for ArtsQuest’s partnership in developing this learning experience,” said Mary Kay McMahon, RN, MHA, NHA, president-CEO of Fellowship Community.

“We know the everyday struggles of care partners and are confident that the program will improve the quality of life for people with dementia and their care-givers,” McMahon said.

“We’re so grateful to be able to assist Fellowship Community in the incredible work they do every day as we continue to discover how the tenets of improv comedy can have so much value both on and off stage,” said ArtsQuest Programming Director Ryan Hill.

“We look forward to partnering with them on this workshop, which is designed to provide caregivers with additional resources and tools to help them communicate with family and friends who are being impacted by dementia and memory loss,” Hill said.

Fellowship Community offers a comprehensive continuum of services that include independent living, personal care, skilled nursing, short-term rehabilitation and memory support on one campus.

Fellowship Community has been honored with national and regional recognition such as U.S. News & World Report as a Best Nursing Home and a Best Short-Stay Rehabilitation. The skilled nursing facility has been accredited by the Joint Commission with special programs.

ArtsQuest is a Bethlehem-based nonprofit dedicated to presenting music, arts, festivals, cultural experiences and educational and outreach programs that aid in economic development, urban revitalization and community enrichment.

Through festivals such as its flagship event, Musikfest; Banana Factory Arts Center; and ArtsQuest Center and SteelStacks arts and cultural campus, ArtsQuest’s programming reaches more than 1.8 million people annually.

The organization’s programs and events, approximately 40 percent of which are free to attend, have a combined economic impact of more than $135 million annually in the region.