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15th October 2016

Making a Wish – Simple Ways to a Fulfilling Life

Making a Wish - Simple Ways to a Fulfilling LifeOne of the benefits of being invited to speak at conferences is that you get to hear other speakers who inspire you or remind of important things. This occurred recently when I was listening to a care home manager recount how a resident, cared for in bed twenty-four hours a day, had a life-long passion for horses and missed seeing them. The manager’s daughter was also into horses so it didn't, take too much effort to arrange for a small horse to visit the resident in her room. The video showing the ladies response bought a tear to the eye. All it needed was some lateral thinking on how to get the animal in and out and a large dustpan and brush! A small wish can have a big impact.

Make a Wish!

At NAPA we recommend that everyone should have the chance to make a wish. I've seen this done with wishes written on leaves attached to a Wishing Tree. I prefer a Wishing Well - mine was a beautifully decorated old tin bucket-  as it offers more privacy and discretion.

Staff can sometimes be surprised by the simplicity of a 'wish'. I know of a gentleman that asked for a large box of Dairy Milk chocolates so that he could eat one before bed every night. A ritual he had shared with his wife for many years.


Fulfilling a wish can be highly motivating for an older person. Regaining her mobility through practice and exercise led one of my residents to be able to get in and out of my car. This took 6 months to achieve but led to her visiting her husbands' grave 60 miles away. A trip that she believed would be impossible. The longer term outcome was her increased mobility and much improved quality of life as she regained her independence.

Identifying what motivates a person is a real skill. Inviting someone to make a wish can be a useful tool as it is not an intrusive or challenging direct question and can be approached in a light hearted way. A skilled activity leader will build on the responses to stimulate further conversations and set goals like the lady visiting the grave had.

"Not at my age"

It is all too easy to accept that older people can't do things as a result of frailty in later life. It is very easy to promote dependency by caring too much and not doing enough to enable. In our culture it is common to hear comments like "Not at my age" or "I'm too old for that".

I hope that by encouraging carers to gather wishes we can break some of these taboos and support older people to set their sights high. With the guidance of an enabling service every older person should be able to enjoy a fulfilling and satisfying life full of love and laughter.

If you would like to know more about how NAPA can support you go to

*All information is correct at the time of publishing. Use of this material is subject to your acceptance of our terms and conditions.

Sylvie Silver

Activities Specialist

Sylvie is the Executive Director of NAPA responsible for all aspects of the charities work. NAPA is recognised as the ‘thought leader’ around Activity Provision and Sylvie is the key influencer in achieving this. Sylvie‘s hands on experience was gained working in a nursing home for older people and prior to that with Adults with Learning Disabilities. Since then she has worked with, and trained, hundreds of care staff from senior management to grassroots workers to raise the profile of the importance of meaningful engagement and a life full of love and laughter. Read more

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