At Providence, the desire to see each person for who they are before any condition or diagnosis is part of our DNA.
Rehab Assistant Angel Ip took the spirit of this to the next level, creating a project for residents that not only gave her the opportunity to gain a better insight into each resident, but also gave the residents a reminder of who they are beyond their mobility, age, or condition.
Angel, who’s been working at Youville since October 2020, had been spending time visiting with Mrs. Heung-Wong when she made an interesting discovery.
“With COVID restrictions, we’ve been doing more small group activities and 1:1 visiting,” explains Angel. “I was getting to know Mrs. Heung-Wong better and asked what she enjoyed in the past. She told me that I would be surprised to see past photos of her, considering what she looks like now.”
Angel delved further and found out that Mrs. Heung-Wong’s father had restricted her to only wear 1920’s qipao, a long Chinese dress, in pink and paired with red high heels and a matching handbag.
“She made a point of mentioning to me that she can’t wear them anymore with her current physical abilities and that she’s too old for the now,” says Angel.
And so Angel embarked on a project.
A flash from the past
“After our conversation, I thought about how meaningful it would be for Mrs. Heung-Wong to see herself wearing those clothes from the past,” recalls Angel. “I searched for countless images on Google for fashion in the 50’s and selected ones that would complement her.”
Angel then went on to find photos of Mrs. Heung-Wong, cut them out and “dressed her up” with the outfits that she had found online. And then took the extra step to mount it on a colourful background to make the images look alive.
“When I presented Mrs. Heung-Wong with what I had done, she smiled so brightly and commented on how pretty it is. Her family was visiting that day, and so she was able to also show them.”
Mrs. Heung-Wong’s family loved the images and took the time to email Angel to say “job well done” and that they were very grateful.
“It was so fun to do the research for clothes that she might have worn. I also have an interest in fashion and this research allowed me to be in touch with my Chinese culture,” says Angel. “And it brought me closer to Mrs. Heung-Wong and what her life was like in her past.”
The Trend Goes On
So well-received was Angel’s project for Mrs. Heung-Wong that Angel embarked on doing the same for nearly all other residents in the neighbourhood.
“In this particular neighbourhood, most have difficulties with mobility and dementia and so for those who could remember those days, the project has meant so much to them. I think it allowed them to relive those moments and that part of their life,” says Angel. “And for others, it has stimulated what it would have been like to live the fashion of that 40’s and 50’s era.”
What started out as a small project for one resident turned into creating throwback wardrobes for approximately 20 residents. And while the residents have been in love with the images of their past selves, Angel has also gained much through the experience.
“It took quite a bit of time collecting photos of all of residents and then the Google research and laminating them all,” laughs Angel. “But it’s been so very worth it. It’s been rewarding to see this project bring so much laughter, joy, and nostalgia to the residents, families, and staff during these difficult times. It’s gone well beyond what I expected to achieve.”
The final projects for many residents are posted in a display case at Youville for everyone to enjoy and marvel at.