Thursday, December 12, 2013

A Baby for Gram

Union County Volunteer Advocate Linda Mainker has developed a highly effective and innovative way to improve the lives of nursing home residents living in memory care units: giving them lifelike dolls.

“The idea to provide the residents with dolls in aiding them to remember their early days (came) after seeing a resident holding a great grandchild, ” said Mainker, who has been a volunteer advocate for 15 years. "The residents have responded positively.”

A Baby for Gram is a baby doll therapy program for memory care residents developed by Mainker,
one of OOIE’s most seasoned volunteers. Mainker also serves as a mentor to new advocates and
helped to edit the revised OOIE Volunteer Advocate training manual.

Residents who are “caring” for the realistic baby dolls tend to be more focused and less agitated during routine care and their attitude towards other residents and facility staff is improved, said Mainker, adding “Our capacity for love and nurturing is an inherent basic need.”

To date, the Volunteer Advocate Program has given away over 300 baby dolls in Union, Hudson, Essex and Morris Counties!

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