The Hummingbird Program was born out of the firm belief that qualify of life is as important as quality of care. We see each client as a whole person, and we’re committed to care beyond symptoms and physical needs. Our clients, like all of us, are unique individuals with a capacity for joy and the need to feel connected to other people and engaged in the world around us.
So we created a unique group of trained professionals solely dedicated to quality of life—the emotional, intellectual, creative, environmental, physical, vocational and spiritual needs we all share as human beings.
How does the program work?
The Hummingbird Therapeutic Activity Program pairs clients with therapeutic activity specialists trained in helping older adults reengage in old passions and explore new interests. Because no two people are exactly alike, our specialists don’t go in with a one-size-fits-all formula. Activity plans are highly individualized to reflect the unique personality, life history, interests, and abilities of each client.
The Hummingbird team engages clients through one-on-one activity sessions, carefully planned outings, and individualized Therapeutic Activity Kits that can be used by family members, care providers, and other care team members at any time to engage clients in a range of meaningful and stimulating activities. Sessions might include memory or sensory games, memoir writing, armchair travel, gardening, creating art or crafts, or special outings to a place connected with a client’s past or special interests.
By providing concierge services and products, we support engagement in life through enjoyable activities—and work with families and care providers to create opportunities for joy.
One-to-One Activity Sessions
Whether we’re working with clients in their homes or in a larger care setting, our one-on-one sessions help engage clients in a deeper way, and can be especially helpful for people who are not interested in group programming, have been unable to participate meaningfully in group activities, or simply prefer individualized attention.
Because each client is unique, we:
• Begin with a customized activities plan that is built upon the ideas and expertise of the entire Sage team
• Tailor activities to each client’s individual interests
• Connect clients with activity specialists who have been selected for their creativity and have richly varied backgrounds, interests, and areas of expertise
• Promptly provide written reports to family members and decision makers after each activity session, frequently with a photo
• Continually fine-tune the activity plans, responding to client and family input and to our own observations
• Provide sensory and activity kits for engagement and for use as non-pharmacological tools to address anxiety and agitation
One-on-one activity sessions are typically 2-3 hours in length and might be focused on:
• Arm chair travel to destinations around the world
• Gardening and outdoor pursuits
• Enjoyment of intellectual games and building mental fitness
• Memoir writing or life review
• Creative expression and art experiences
• Outings to local cultural centers including museums and parks
• Curriculum based programming focused on lifelong learning
• Crafts, arts, or hobby fulfillment
• Technology training
• Music programs, including performances
• Sensory integration and relaxation techniques
We are also pleased to offer training and consultation to families and professionals on creative engagement techniques and approaches, particularly for people living with dementia.
What are the benefits of engagement in therapeutic activities?
• Encourages self-confidence and boosts self-esteem
• Positive social interactions with others
• Fun and enjoyment of life
• Validation of feelings, experiences, and identity
• Increased engagement time and physical activity
• Ability to express both positive and negative emotions in a safe relationship
• Strength-based approach that highlights clients’ abilities
• Creating a feeling of belonging and worth
• Engagement in experiences that are specifically meaningful to the client as an individual
• Experiences of being seen and heard
• Alleviates social withdrawal and/or distress
• Decreases isolation and increases joy
• Encourages independent activities that are stimulating to the mind and spirit
• Provides opportunity for self-reflection
• Respect for cultural preferences
• Promotes vitality
• Engages client in the process of making choices for themselves and feeling self-directed
• Promotes independence
• Creates joyful moments
Our individualized Therapeutic Activity Kits and Sensory Kits are a hallmark of the Hummingbird Program. These kits are created by the highly experienced Hummingbird team to provide meaningful activities that allow family members to connect with their loved one in a whole new way—and for care providers to engage clients in a range of stimulating activities.
Kit activities come with detailed instructions and engaging materials, so you can feel confident as you begin exploring new experiences at the time and pace that works for you. Every activity is designed to stimulate clients in a way that is both therapeutic and enjoyable, and we include specific recommendations for expanding on themes or modifying activities for changing physical or cognitive abilities.
While our kits are designed to provide interactive, relational activities, they also engage clients in self-directed exercises that can give family members and care providers a bit of time to tend to other responsibilities.
Customized Therapeutic Activity Kits
Therapeutic Activity Kits are a collection of engagement tools created by our activity specialists with each client’s interests, life history, and abilities in mind. Activities are researched for success prior to recommendation and every customized kit includes easy-to-use materials and detailed instructions that make the activities come alive.
Kit activities might include projects such as:
• Creative expression using geometric coloring books or oil pastels
• Art appreciation using prints featuring works at the Louvre or MoMA
• Bird watching using plush, singing birds as a tactile element
• Sensory stimulation and relaxation using lavender hand cream
• Armchair travel using post cards of Europe and America
• Intellectual stimulating ‘brain fitness’ exercises or cards to promote lifelong learning on history and culture
An activity specialist can deliver your customized Therapeutic Activity Kit, along with suggested adaptations for variety or to accommodate changing physical or cognitive abilities. Activity specialists and supervisors are also available to train care providers and family members how to best use the kit, and for ongoing idea generation and support.
Sensory Kits are designed to stimulate clients who have functional limitations, but who will still benefit from the attention and engagement of sensory stimulation. They’re also an important non-medication remedy to the agitation, boredom, and frustration often experienced by older adults who need long-term care.
As with our Therapeutic Activity Kits, Sensory Kits have been created by the uniquely experienced Hummingbird activity specialists and come with interesting, soothing and often unexpected materials that have a range of sounds, visuals, tastes, and textures. Detailed instructions are included so you can figure out step-by-step how the activity will work best for your client or family member.
Some examples of Sensory Kit activities include:
• Holding and rubbing worry stones
• Beating or listening to a buffalo drum
• Taste testing different chocolates or teas
• Using essential oils and seeing how they effect mood
• Immersive art materials
Depending on our client’s specific situation, an activity specialist might deliver a sensory kit and use it with the client during a session, or model the activities for care providers or family members to use with their client or loved one at any time they want to provide stimulation or ease agitation. We see agitation as a sign of an unmet need, so this is often a time that we’ll introduce Sensory Kits to address the agitation, increase comfort, and help restore well-being.
Our Therapeutic Activity Experts
The Hummingbird Program’s activity specialists are what make our one-on-one program truly unique. This eclectic group of professionals is trained to help seniors reengage in creative, intellectual, and sensory activities, explore new interests, and feel connected to family, friends, and care providers. Our professional backgrounds are diverse, including recreation therapy, fine arts, dementia care, music, creative arts therapies, and more. We work one-on-one with clients to draw inspiration from each individual’s life story and goals.
What is The Hummingbird Project SM?
The Hummingbird ProjectSM is an initiative of Sage Eldercare Solutions that is devoted to providing services and developing products that promote Quality of Life for older adults receiving care. The goal of The Hummingbird ProjectSM is to cultivate joy, engage curiosity, and foster personal expression.
To that end, we created the Hummingbird Therapeutic Activity Program, as well as individualized Activity and Sensory Kits that can be used by family members and care attendants at any time.
The Hummingbird Therapeutic Activity Program pairs clients with professionally trained therapeutic activity specialists to enhance quality of life. Activity plans are created for each individual to reflect their unique personality, life history, interests, and abilities. The Hummingbird Program provides one-on-one activity and engagement services tailored to the needs of the client and family.
What is an activity specialist?
An activity specialist is a professional who is trained to help clients reengage in old passions and explore new interests. Our backgrounds are diverse including horticulture, creative and fine arts, philosophy, memory support, history, academia and more.
What type of training do activity specialists have?
Our activity specialists have at least a BA or BS and ten or more years of experience working with older adults. Many have a master’s degree or higher.
How frequently do activity specialists see clients?
Typically, activity specialists see clients once a week, but sometimes more or less, depending on the frequency the client desires.
Where are your activity specialists located?
San Mateo, Santa Clara, San Francisco Counties, Marin, Alameda, Contra Costa, Sacramento and Placer Counties.
How do I begin working with a Hummingbird Activity Specialist?
Please contact us at (650) 777-7607 or Hummingbird@SageEldercare.com to make a referral to the Hummingbird Program. The first step for most services is a complimentary half-hour telephone consultation with interested parties or family members to describe the program, answer questions and learn about the client’s needs and interests. We then arrange to start services with an in person meeting in which an activity specialist (sometimes two) visit the client to make an assessment and provide recommendations.
How can the Hummingbird Program help me or my loved one?
By providing concierge services to clients and their families, we support engagement in life through enjoyable activities that are specifically designed for each client as a unique individual. Our program goals include reducing isolation, combating loneliness, and working with families and caregivers to create opportunities for joy.
What services does the Hummingbird Program provide?
One-on-one activity sessions are focused time between a client and an activity specialist. Sessions might include:
- Arm chair travel to destinations around the world
- Memoir writing
- Mental fitness exercises
- Gardening and outdoor pursuits
- Enjoyment of intellectual games
- Creative expression
- Outings to local cultural centers including museums and parks
- Curriculum based programming focused on lifelong learning
- Crafts, arts or hobby fulfillment
One-on-one activity sessions are typically two to three hours in length, and include a detailed report, often with a picture from the session, for the client’s family. Outings can be four or more hours.
Consultation with families, care providers, and professionals is available to establish plans for engaging clients in quality of life activities. This might include idea generating, individualized training for care team members (family or professional care providers), preparing and organizing materials, training professional care providers, and more. We also provide brief one-on-one interventions to address agitation, alleviate boredom that may be causing behavioral expressions of an unmet need, or provide support during times of transition.
Therapeutic Activity Kits are a hallmark of our program and can be utilized by family members, care providers, and other care team members as a way to engage clients in a range of stimulating activities. We specialize in both customized activity kits and sensory kits.
- Therapeutic Activity Kits are a collection of engagement tools, created based on a client’s unique interests. These items are researched for success prior to recommendation and might include brain fitness games, creative expression books, projects. and a range of other items.
- Sensory Kits are a collection of soothing, focused engagement tools that provide stimulation, increase engaging activity, decrease agitation, and restore calm.
- Detailed instructions are provided with the kit.
- An activity specialist is available to deliver the kit and demonstrate how the items can be used and suggest adaptations for variety and to address changing needs.
- The activity specialist will also provide instructions to the client/family/care provider for how to best deliver the interventions.
- Therapeutic activity kits take approximately 3-4 hours to conceptualize, research and create; the time spent is billed at our hourly rate. At your request, we provide an estimate for approval prior to ordering materials. Otherwise, we ask for a budget of $150 for kit components.
Quality of Life Assessments are in-depth assessments focused solely on a client’s quality of life goals by offering specific interventions for an activity specialist, care manager, family member, or professional care provider to carry out. A detailed quality of life assessment outlines quality of life goals with a list of creative means to meet these goals and specific instructions on how to do so. This culminates in a training led by the activity specialist to support successful implementation of the recommendations.
Programs for Community Living Settings are offered to clients in independent living, assisted living, or skilled nursing homes. A Hummingbird activity specialist visits once a week to work with clients who would benefit from the addition of one-on-one therapeutic activity sessions—or who haven’t benefited from or responded well to group activities or other programs offered by the facility. Session curriculum is tailored to the individual interests of each client and might include:
- Learning new art skills from teaching artists
- Explorative learning on areas of intrigue and lifelong learning on areas of expertise
- Outings to cultural events, exhibits, and other places of interest
- Projects such as creating a memoir and/or a pictorial history project, learning how to use a technology, or making gifts for others
- Travelogues in the comfort of one’s home
- Learning a new talent
- Sessions are one to two hours in length
Client and Family Testimonials about the Hummingbird Therapeutic Activity Program
Over the course of almost two years, one activity specialist met with a client weekly for two hours to write a memoir about his service in WWII. Along with writing a memoir, this activity specialist engaged the client’s love of music, dance, and researching family heritage. The family shared this message following an activity session:
"Looks like everyone is enjoying their time together! My Dad looks so happy....thank you all for taking such good care of him :)"
With the help of a Sage Activity Specialist, one client has reinvested in her personal passion for the arts and entertainment through intellectual stimulation specifically targeted to her interests. This client and her activity specialist meet regularly to enjoy alcohol-free cocktails by the fireplace while exploring current San Francisco Bay Area culture, events, and the client’s favorite poets. The client’s family shared the following gratitude after reading an activity session report,
"It appears that you two have hit a home run! The client herself said, Thank you for the energy you bring to me every week—we have fun together!"
Another activity specialist brings unique programming to a couple living with dementia; the focus is on engaging their individual strengths, fostering connection between the couple, and mentoring the care providers on new ways to engage the couple’s interests in music, movies, culture, food, and outings. In turn, the clients’ family feels they have benefited from reading about the activity specialist’s interventions, specifically regarding their Mother’s participation in preparing healthy snacks to enjoy during an arm chair travel session,
"I’m really happy with the activity specialist’s help!! We have my parents over for dinner on Thursday nights and, last night, we had my Mom help with some basic food preparation, which I could tell she enjoyed. We got the idea from these reports on the Activity Specialist sessions and what she is doing with my Mom. I really look forward to reading these summaries each week!"
One client meets weekly with an activity specialist to play intellectually stimulating games, participate in creative expression exercises (including Touch Drawing, mandala art, and more) and engage in “armchair” travel sessions, including visits to Paris, Greece, and Thailand. These sessions provide this client living in a skilled nursing community an opportunity to experience joy and connection beyond the walls of her facility. After completing a project focused on fostering gratitude for the client’s inherent beauty, the client stated to the activity specialist,
"You taught me how to enjoy life again—thank you."
Before meeting this client, our activity specialist had been told that she was living with dementia and more often than not, presented an aggressive behavior. As our activity specialist walked through the room for their first encounter, the client warmly greeted her and was elated that they shared a common heritage. The client took pleasure in showing her beautiful home and shared stories from when she was young. She welcomed our activity specialist back to her home with open arms and from that day on a special bond was created. When our activity specialist arrives to the client’s home now, she immediately recognizes her and enjoys catching up on the past week's events.
"I am "over the top" thrilled with these reports and progresses! As I so vehemently defended her "right to a better life" to her doctors in early December when they really wanted to "write her off.” She is reacting exactly as I hoped she would, given the encouragement she needed!!! I literally could "do a dance"!!!!!"
Inspiration of the Hummingbird
Many legends hold that hummingbirds possess magical qualities. It is believed that hummingbirds hover timelessly, bringing hope and harmony to all who see them. Just as the hummingbird passes from flower to flower drinking nectar, we too must relish the sweetness that life brings day to day.
The hummingbird’s elegance reflects the splendor that is everywhere in everything and in everyone. We must recognize this brilliance of daily life and open ourselves to all of life’s gifts, while also embracing our own sense of self.
The Hummingbird Therapeutic Activity Program seeks to bring happiness and delight to our clients by ensuring a fullness of life. It is our hope that clients will not only recognize the beauty in the world around them, but also the beauty within themselves.
To learn more, please contact The Hummingbird ProjectSM at (650) 777-7607 or Hummingbird@SageEldercare.com