Welcome to Silver Innings Blog, Good Day

Powered by IP2Location.com

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Old Environment Helps Dementia Residents

The thought of ending your days in a sterile, uncaring institution is terrifying - but it needn't be so.

There's a revolution going on in a care home in North Yorkshire where uplifting treatment is having a profound effect on residents.

You can see it in the beaming faces of those who live at Threshfield Court, the smiles of the staff, the buzz of energy that fills the brightly furnished rooms.

The home is a far cry from the gloomy image of elderly people left to sit staring into space, their bodily functions taken care of but their emotional state neglected.

That's because at Memory Lane emotional well-being is the top priority. And given that there are 700,000 people with dementia in the UK - a number predicted to soar to one million by 2025 - it's an issue that will affeect every family.

Here, the mantra is "feelings matter most" and the place is so full of old items designed to jog fading memories that it looks more like a lovingly put-together museum.

In a nook in the corridor is an old-fashioned Silver Cross pram and a full-sized cot with a doll tucked under a blanket.

The kitchen area, where residents can help bake cakes for afternoon tea, has a cool-touch hob, 50s Bovril adverts on the walls and old-fashioned scales.

There's also a desk and typewriter in the activities room, wood off-cuts, sandpaper and joinery tools, an indoor and outdoor garden, and various laundry paraphernalia, including an old washboard.

There is even a wedding dress and veil pinned to one wall which many male and female residents like to ponder over, because the image holds memories for most people.

The home's General Manager Valerie Gains says: "One of the most poignant things I've ever seen here was a man staring out of the window on a lovely day then smiling into the pram and giving it a shake to see if his baby was OK.

"One lady couldn't sleep unless the cot was in her room and she knew her baby was sleeping. She fed it at mealtimes and cuddled it.

"They know the dolls aren't real babies. But the urge to nurture is such a natural feeling and we all like to feel we're needed. Why deny these people such a nice, comforting emotion?"

Walking down the hall, we are greeted with a big smile by 83-year-old Betty Simpson. Her favourite place is the sewing corner where there is an old Singer sewing machine, lots of material, 60s patterns and rolls of yarn.

Betty, who likes Noel Edmonds and the Royal Family - although not Camilla - doesn't sew. She just likes sitting here and touching the objects which might once have been so familiar to her.

She also has tissue paper wrapped around her head and tucked neatly under a hairnet.

"We don't know why Betty likes to have tissue wrapped around her like that," explains Sheena, quietly.

"But we do know that if we took it away she'd be upset." Some residents are referred here by the Social Services, others are funded privately which costs from £550 a week. Keeping them all happy is a requirement of the job.

In the lounge, activities organiser Helen Hepworth is cheek-to-cheek with an elderly man, both singing Strangers in the Night. Care assistant Vicky Hallewell is sat with a white-haired lady who is thumbing through picture books.

Others are helping residents explore a "school days" box, which contains jotters, pencils, stickers - even an apple for the teacher.

"We have trained nurses on duty 24 hours a day, but the difference with our team members and other care home staff is all in the attitude and the heart," says Valerie. "At interviews I'll ask if they can sing or dance and invite them to join in with me. If they do so happily, it shows they have the right attitude.

"If a resident wants to get up at 4pm, that's fine. Do the gardening in their pyjamas because it makes them happy, why not? If they want to eat lunch in a corridor, that's OK.

"It's not all about activities. It's about chatting to someone in a corridor, letting them touch your face. The pleasure they get from holding your hand. Heart is something that's missing in many care homes. People are scared to use the word love. It's more about becoming their best friends because their relationships at this stage of their journeys change."

Every ornament and stick of furniture has been chosen carefully. There are boxes of costume jewellery, pine cones, hair rollers - anything that might capture the interest or recall a former time.

People with dementia often have trouble reading, so on residents' doors are pictures of their favourite things. Harry's door has a cricketer, Shirley's has a baby, while on Betty's is a snap of Noel Edmonds.

Dolls and nick-nacks may seem an odd sort of therapy, but Neil Hunt, CEO of the Alzheimer's Society says: "Reminiscence therapy can prompt long-term memories and unlocking these memories can empower people with dementia.

"It can give confidence at a time when they may get anxious because they can't remember things that have happened in the short-term."

Sheena Wyllie, of Barchester Healthcare, which runs Memory Lane, adds: "With dementia you lose logic and reasoning.

"What you have left is your emotions, which become much stronger.

"Without the words to convey those emotions, feelings are expressed in their behaviour.

"Until now care homes looked after residents in a functional way - ensuring they washed, had meals and were helped to the loo. But it's just as important that their feelings are looked after, too."

"We're not denying that dementia is traumatic. It's hard if your dad doesn't recognise you and you hear him call a carer 'son'.

"But with an enlightened approach, dementia doesn't have to be a big, black place. We have a lot of fun here.

"There's a lot of joy to be had for people with dementia - we just have to learn to unlock it."

Numbers to bear in mind

2 out of 3 people with late onset dementia are still living at home with their families

£11 what UK spends a year on research, for every sufferer

60 per cent of all 65+ residents in homes have dementia

700,000 the number of Brits currently suffering from some form of dementia

£6billion is what unpaid carers of relatives with dementia save the economy every year

17bn the annual cost of dementia to the UK.


No comments:

Blogsite Disclaimer

The content of this Blog, including text, graphics, images, information are intended for General Informational purposes only. Silver Innings Blog is not responsible for, and expressly disclaims all liability for, damages of any kind arising out of use, reference to, or reliance on any information contained within the site. While the information contained within the site is periodically updated, no guarantee is given that the information provided in this Web site is correct, complete, and up-to-date.The links provided on this Blog do not imply any official endorsement of, or responsibility for, the opinions, data, or products available at these locations. It is also the user’s responsibility to take precautionary steps to ensure that information accessed at or downloaded from this or linked sites is free of viruses, worms, or other potentially destructive software programs.All links from this Blog are provided for information and convenience only. We cannot accept responsibility for sites linked to, or the information found there. A link does not imply an endorsement of a site; likewise, not linking to a particular site does not imply lack of endorsement.We do not accept responsibility for any loss, damage or expense resulting from the use of this information.Opinions expressed by contributors through discussion on the various issues are not necessarily those of Silver Innings Blog.