Beth Ann Scruggs
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Practitioner Symposium Spotlight: Beth Ann Scruggs

Beth Ann Scruggs took the Practitioner Certificate course to design ideas and programs that were practical and engaging for members of an adult day program. In the end she gained more than she expected.

Beth Ann is part of a team of dedicated providers at Renew, a Montessori based Adult Day Program in South Carolina. Their day program focuses on individuals that have early-onset cognitive impairment. The individuals that participate in Renew’s program are “empowered to engage in curiosity-led activities that honor agency and individual choice in a supported environment.”

Each person that becomes a student in the Practitioner Certificate program chooses two individuals to participate in case studies where personalized activities and roles are created based upon his/her skills abilities.

Beth Ann shared the journey of one of her participants, we’ll call him “Jim”, who was a retired advertising agent that loved poetry and music. Jim was easily bored if not provided with activities that interested him and when he became bored, he became “curious”. This curiosity led Jim to interrupt others, and in some cases, destroy the center’s materials through rummaging and manipulating. Understanding that “curiosity” was an indicator of boredom and need for mental stimulation, Beth Ann reviewed Jim’s interests and identified some topics that were relevant to him and that he took joy from doing… the first thing was poetry. In this activity and role, Jim was able to use his skills as a past poet and write poetry and then read his poetry to the members of the Day Program and the children in the nearby Head Start program. This was met with satisfaction for Jim and enjoyment for the group. Then Beth Ann offered music to Jim… and that was a key… Beth Ann and her colleagues created “concert” opportunities for Jim to play his guitar and sing his poetry at scheduled times for community members who wished to participate. Following the concerts, members shared feedback and Jim was able to experience joy for what he shared and that grew a continued interest in writing poetry and playing music.

activity for elder with cognitive decline: playing music

That was only one opportunity that Jim was offered! Additionally, Beth Ann and Jim worked together to design other activities that would promote independence and fill Jim’s need to be busy in a purposeful way. Jim had interest in caring for flowers and plants, so they designed a watering program for the plants within the Day Center.

activity for those with cognitive decline: watering the plans

Jim’s reading ability was preserved and he enjoyed following a routine schedule, so this activity was perfect for him. A schedule was created that used language and symbol representations that made sense to Jim and kept him on track. He learned the schedule and was able to mark his watering schedule sheet that reminded him which plants he had watered. If he happened to miss a plant, the staff at the center would place a visual reminder near the plant for Jim, so he would come back and tend to it. With guidance from Beth Ann, practice and the schedule and visual cues, Jim and the plants at the care community grew and thrived!

Thank you, Beth Ann for sharing your experience with us!

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