Working together, improving lives

October 2022

Staying Safe During Halloween: Supporting Vulnerable People During the Holiday

Halloween makes for an exciting time of the year; we enjoy cosy nights in watching our favourite spooky films, we decorate and dress-up in preparation for trick-or-treaters, we pick and carve pumpkins with friends and family, but it is important we consider, and teach our youngsters to be respectful to those who may be more vulnerable. For many, Halloween can be a daunting experience, as the season brings about a sense of uncertainty including visual changes to environment and unusual or alarming sounds.

In this month’s Dean Healthcare blog, we’re exploring ways to make everyone feel safe during the spooky season, with tips to ensure happiness and comfort for all, through to activities you can do in services that will encourage independence and promote confidence and security.

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Changes to environment - Many people like to decorate during Halloween, but for some people, especially those with conditions such as dementia, this can be a confusing experience. These tips can help those who are more sensitive to change and the unfamiliar:

1 – Talk to the neighbours and find out whether they are putting up Halloween decorations. If so, consider asking them to refrain from animatronic ones – those that make sound or light up - as these can be more unnerving.

2 – Walk around and look at the decorations with those you care for, making sure they get to see the changes to décor, take the time to reassure them and talk about the season.

3 – If Halloween is making those you care for nervous, try engaging activities that will make them feel more at ease. This could include; creating a ‘trick-or-treat’ sweet budget, helping to de-seed or carve pumpkins or getting involved in some seasonal baking.

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Trick-or-treaters – The prospect of people in unfamiliar clothing, gruesome make-up, silly voices and maniacal laughing can be alarming to those in our society who are more vulnerable.

1 – Printing a "Beware who you Scare" poster for the front window can deter trick or treaters. Ideally, these simple signs should divert unwanted knocks at the door, laughing and screaming. You could also consider placing a bowl of sweets away from the front entrance too.

2 – Discuss what costumes people wear and why. Similarly, see whether the person you care for would like to dress up in something Halloween-inspired. Getting involved might improve their feelings towards Halloween.

3 – Try to make sure that the young people in your life know to leave houses with "Beware who you Scare" posters alone, and encourage them to be respectful during Halloween.

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Other considerations – These are some other things you should be aware of to ensure the happiness of all during Halloween.

1 - Just as quickly as the spooky season arrives, it also ends, with the prospect of Christmas on the horizon. Consider how removing Halloween decorations could affect people just as much as when putting them up. When removing decorations in a residential home, take your time, allow the residents time to explore and understand the reason for change.

2 – Always be mindful, Halloween stirs up a lot of emotions so it’s important that you are considerate around the feelings that people have.

3 – Don’t dress up if you don't know how those you care for will react! It might be tempting to wear something that you think will bring a smile to a resident or service user's face, but just remember, they may have an unexpected reaction to a physical change in your appearance. It might be better to treat it like any other day and dress sensibly.

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These are just a few examples of things you may want to consider when caring for and supporting people during Halloween. It’s important to stress that everyone reacts differently to Halloween and the changes it brings. As a Healthcare Assistant or Support Worker you’ll know better than most about how to be sensitive to the people you work with, and those who are vulnerable in your local area.

From all of us at Dean Healthcare, we wish you all a happy, healthy Halloween!