Walking onto the Dementia Unit at St. Cabrini Nursing Home is always a special and unique experience. On April 14, 2021, the atmosphere was festive as five residents were gathered around the “Magic Table.” The Magic Table, otherwise known as a “Tovertafel,” is a ceiling-based, high-quality projector that contains infrared sensors, a loudspeaker and a processer with which interactive lights are projected on to any table in the form of games, including catching butterflies, sweeping leaves and popping bubbles. The people playing, sit around the table and respond to the lights – which in turn respond to their hand and arm movements. The Tovertafel was developed in the Netherlands and creates a fun, safe environment for all residents. The games are formulated with the intention to trigger a sense of reminiscence among players in order to encourage stimulation socially, cognitively and physically.
Resident Eva Rodriguez started singing and moved her fingers on the table as though she were playing the piano. As she did this, bubbles began popping in various colors while the rest of the residents at the table looked on with smiles. “Look, I’m playing music!” she said. Mary Ballentine and Paula Enzman were seated next to one another and laughed together as Therapeutic Recreation Therapist, Maria Samuels swept her hands all along the table to create a forest scene. “They have so much fun!” said Ms. Samuels. “I love to see the interaction between the residents as they engage with the table and each other. Sometimes, I see a side of the resident that I’ve never seen before. The smiles are contagious!”
Funding for the Magic Table was made possible by a grant from the Mother Cabrini Health Foundation. In addition to the table, the grant also allowed for 30 staff members to complete certification by the National Council of Certified Dementia Practitioners (CDP). The training helped the staff gain knowledge and learn interventions for difficult behaviors, daily care and meaningful activities.