The Akula Foundation provides FREE Reminiscence Groups at area senior centers, independent and assisted living facilities and nursing homes. The groups are lead by an independently contracted and licensed facilitator who is funded by the Foundation. We currently serve over 115 facilities in New Orleans, Baton Rouge, the Northshore, Lafayette and on the Gulf Coast in Mississippi.
Following Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005, one group of individuals who had suffered relocation, physical and emotional trauma was the residents of nursing home facilities. In 2006 a program was started to provide Reminiscence Groups in the New Orleans area. The goal was to encourage the elderly to communicate and interact with a listener in the present, to reduce the effects of the trauma they had suffered.
Reminiscence is a way to relive events from our past. It is a process that focuses on the personal way we experience and remember events, rather than on chronological or historical accuracy. Remember When?
Those two words can stir up a conversation or hours of entertainment; producing old memories, whether pleasant or unpleasant. The Reminiscence program has been wonderful for the community. Each facility has its own unique experiences and memories. The Reminiscence team has been able to experience awesome benefits not only for the residents but also the staff that occasionally joins in the fun as well. It gives us great pleasure to see the smiles on the faces of the people in our group as they share their stories. In a recent retirement home group, a resident joined in for the first time stating that she was just going to sit and observe because she could not remember anything. As the group shared their stories, she could not contain herself and added her story. The smile on her face as she shared a childhood memory was priceless. She did not want the group to end.
Topics covered in the groups include but are not limited to:
- Early Family and School Memories
- Childhood Pets, Songs and Activities
- Teen-age Acting Out - Rebellion
- Special Friends, Love and Marriage
- Ups and Downs of Life Work
- Childhood Heroes, Real and Imaginary
- Radio and First Exposure to Television
- Childhood Town or City/ Adult Towns and Cities
- Describe the First Time You Rode in a Car, Train or Plane
- Favorite Foods or Comfort Foods and Memories Associated with Them
There are multiple benefits to the community from our reminiscence program. Research suggests that reminiscence increases life satisfaction and self-esteem. Even in older adults who suffer from dementia, the two main benefits of reminiscence are improved cognitive function and an improvement in quality of life (with a focus on improved emotions and overall happiness/mood).
So many people think that they are unable to remember events in life, but all it takes is some good people and motivation to get the memories flowing. So take time and try out this simple phase, “Remember When”
In 2017, we plan to continue to expand this program into more senior center, assisted living and nursing home facilities. For a complete list of where and when our reminiscence groups are held, please see the list on the website or call (504) 818 – 2723 for more information.
We realize that adjusting to life's transitions may be a challenge. The AIM Program is pleased to offer a service to assist you, your patients, and their loved ones, as your patient transitions from curative modalities to palliative care. The AIM Program Team is available to meet with, evaluate and educate patients who you believe are appropriate for our services. Our staff can meet your patients and their families in the comfort of their home, in the hospital, skilled nursing facilities or your own office suite. There is no fee for this service.
WHAT IS THE PURPOSE OF THE AIM PROGRAM?
The purpose of the AIM Program is to work with patients and families who are currently under the care of home health but are dealing with the end stages of a serious illness. The AIM Program will work to do the following:
- 1. Patient and family will be provided with support to get through the difficult times encountered while receiving palliative care for their illness. This may include, but is not limited to, support groups for caregivers and nonpharmacological interventions for symptom management.
- 2. Educate members of any interested home health team regarding hospice and end of life care. Help the members of the home health team understand what patients may benefit from the AIM Program.
WHY SHOULD A HOME HEALTH AGENCY WORK WITH THE AIM PROGRAM?
The AIM Program is a non-profit assistance program offered to all interested home health agencies. Now that our agencies have agreed to work together, the following benefits will be offered.
- 1. Education for home health staff on end of life care.
- 2. Palliative care consultation for assistance with pain and symptom management.
- 3. Pre-hospice evaluations.
- 4. Assistance with patients and families to discuss difficult diagnosis and prognosis of disease, along with continued support being offered to the family and patient through this “transitional” phase.
- 5. Ease of transition to hospice services when appropriate.
For information on AIM call John or Jennifer at 504-818-2723
Camp Swan is a 3day/2night camp for children ages 7-12 who have lost someone significant in their lives. This camp is sponsored by Canon Hospice and the Akula Foundation.
Camp Swan is designed to provide an experience in outdoor living combined with therapeutic activities to facilitate grieving in a fun and naturalistic setting. Camp Swan Mississippi is held each spring at Camp Wilkes in Biloxi, Mississippi. Camp Swan – New Orleans will be held each fall at Camp Living Waters in Loranger, Louisiana.
The camp is staffed by volunteer counselors including bereavement counselors, social workers, doctors, nurses, medical students, and adults from the community. This weekend camp can accommodate approximately 40 children. The funding source for Camps Swan comes from donations from the community directed to the Akula Foundation and Camp Swan.
Campers are organized into four groups:
Younger Girls 7-9
Older Girls 10-12
Younger Boys 7-9
Older Boys 10-12
All campers will follow a schedule which will include meals, snacks, small and large group therapeutic and recreational activities.
Therapeutic activities will include art, music, drama and group and individual discussions. These are designed to help the campers to better understand and express their feelings of grief.
Recreational activities will include an obstacle course, educational lectures and physical exercise time. Admission is given on a space available basis. The Camp is free of charge, donations are accepted.
For additional information contact:
SUE MAY , CANON HOSPICE ADMINISTRATOR CAMP SWAN call 504-818-2723 x3012 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Started in 2013, the Academics/Research program was organized to both provide information to the public and professionals of the various benefits that the Akula Foundation makes to the community and to partner with academic institutions outside the New Orleans area to provide services and conduct research for additional communities.
One of the first of these activities was the Akula Foundation forming an affiliation agreement with the Psychology Department at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette (ULL) to develop, implement and carry out the design of the format for the provision of Reminiscence Groups at various nursing homes located in the greater Lafayette area, as well as, to collect research data on the Reminiscence Project.
For the 2016 – 2017 academic year, we had a doctoral student on a part-time practicum placement with us as part of a joint program with Canon Hospice as a training site for the new psychology doctoral program of The Chicago School of Professional Psychology (TCSPP) at Xavier University of Louisiana. Data were also gathered at Camp Swan – New Orleans on depression and anxiety symptoms of the campers.
Professional presentations and symposiums have been given by staff and Advisory Board members at both psychological and philosophical regional association conventions about the Akula Foundation’s programs, as well as, the publication of a textbook. There have been multiple presentations to community groups and to the Celebration of Life functions.
Multiple benefits to the community included funding a Graduate Practicum Assistantship at ULL for each of the academic years until the end of the program in 2017. It not only provided financial support for a student for each of the years, but also provided training in provision of Reminiscence therapy and the student provided groups to several nursing homes, as well as, data collect on the value of Reminiscence. Further information about our programs may be found in the Archival section of the website.
Following Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005, there was a need for programs to help both the public and professionals deal with the losses. One of the first programs developed was a series of free educational programs called Grief and Renewal. This program was later expanded into our Continuing Education Workshop (CEU) presentations.
Currently these programs are being offered to Health Care Professionals including Nurses, Social Workers, LPCs, Ministers, and anyone interested in the presented topic. Each year we give approximately 20 CEU presentations; many of these are at East Jefferson General Hospital, on the Eastbank and West Jefferson Medical Center on the Westbank. Topics have covered health, mental health and community issues including: Gait Disturbances in Older Adults, Obsessive Compulsive Behavior, Alzheimer’s Disease: The Power of Reminiscence, The Benefits of Chocolate,: the New Health Food, Medical, Nursing and Social Work Ethics, The Ill Patient: How to Have a Conversation, and AIM presentations.
One of the benefits of this program to the community is that as a provider of Continuing Education or CEU credits for our workshops, many professionals can obtain the necessary education to maintain their practice licenses at a minimal cost. Another benefit of this program was that starting in the Spring 2017, we have been partnering with Eventbrite to make registering for all of our workshops more efficient and easier for our participants to register and to obtain their CEU certifications. Check our website, www.akulafoundation.com, for our current CEU schedule.
The Legacy Moments project was founded 2015. It provides DVD and memorial books that includes pictures from a person’s past of keepsakes from yesterday or today or items such as awards, medals, or something received from an older loved one about how they lived, worked, worshiped or played in their world, along with quotes from the person or from notable authors, that continues to exist after they are gone. Originally started for the families of Canon Hospice patients, the program has been expanded to serve the entire community and to help preserve a visual record of a loved one.
This is a service that benefits the entire community, as it can be started at any point, so that the individual can help select materials to be included, or the content can be based on selections by the family, after the person has passed. For any individual, it may provide either a digital record (DVD) or a book, or both; with the most important events in the person’s life all collected in one place, to be shared with other family members. Use of these materials provides easy ways to have access to these events that help family members in the process of reminiscence and resolving grief.
Grief Support is a program of the Akula Foundation that provides FREE outpatient support groups to the community. These support groups are given twice a month at various locations.
In 2006, The Grief Resource Center was founded to provide community care services to the public following the destruction caused by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005. One of the areas the staff immediately identified was the development of a series of free grief groups called Grief and Recovery for support and information about grief, emotional issues and suggestions to promote healthy life coping skills.
These activities later resulted in our current Grief Support programs for individuals who have suffered the death of a loved one. The facilitators for our groups are all licensed professional mental health providers or supervised students. The Grief Support staff members have been involved in a variety of activities of activities in addition to the support groups, including presenting on grief and recovery at local schools, universities, in workshops and at the Canon Hospice Celebration of Life program for bereaved families.
Currently these groups are given at six locations in the Greater New Orleans area, with separate groups for Adults, Teenagers and Children.
Call 504-418-0791 or see the listing on this website for more information about dates and times.