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By Debbie le Quesne

Why I want to hug these people!

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Image provided by the Dementia Services Development Centre and taken by Tony Marsh

The simple ideas are always the best – well, most of the time.

Dementia is a huge problem to manage when, in residential care, service users become distressed, angry and frustrated.

So I was hugely interested in a Guardian professional article by Clara Leeming which focuses on the case of 92-year-old Winifred Baguely and the seemingly simplistic treatment model in her Stockport care home.

Winifred is in her element when she is washing pots or tidying up. She spends much of her time helping Beryl, a housekeeper at her care home, and as she sweeps the corridors with her own dustpan and brush, she can often be heard humming.

Her life has been transformed by the activity at Bruce Lodge. Six months ago Winifred, who was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s four years ago after displaying dementia symptoms for 15 years, was extremely confused, often belligerent and her speech was difficult to follow.

Now her speech has returned and she is much happier.

He daughter Maureen Roscoe is quoted in the article, saying: “The difference is astounding. Mum was a housewife, a practical person who spent her life caring for her five children and our father, who died 20 years ago.

“Her desire to care for people was never blunted but the ability to do so was robbed from her and that left her very frustrated.

“These chores are helping her connect with other things from her past and are opening up new pathways in her mind. The first thing that we noticed had come back was her language – within a week of working with Beryl she was recalling words much better and introducing me to other people by name, whereas before she didn’t know who I was.”

The new routine is part of a Stockport council pilot scheme which aims to quietly revolutionise the way residential dementia care is delivered.

Bruce Lodge is learning to fit in with its residents, rather than the other way around.

I just want to hug these pioneers! How wonderful. How brave. Love it. Love it love it.

Why isn’t this standard practice in ALL care homes? This should be a national initiative.

Hopefully it soon will be as people become more aware of the need for people living with dementia to have a life rather than simply be cared for.

Over recent months, the 43-bed home has worked with consultants Helen Sanderson Associates to find out what makes individuals tick and reflect this in some personal time with a member of staff with common interests.

One man now goes out for a regular pub lunch and pint with his staff match, while a woman rummages in charity shops before going for coffee and a cake.

Someone goes to watch the aeroplanes at Manchester Airport, and another man plays dominoes and tackles large-print crosswords. There is a process of review to ensure activities remain suitable.

But like all good things, the fight to sustain them is often long and hard. The home commits a minimum of two hours a month for each person who lives there.

This wonderful enabling project is a staff-centric exercise and I’m sure it would benefit from extra funding. By hitting the sensory triggers of this people group lives clearly are being changed. The period of one-to-one attention is precious but I’m left concerned that, given the track record thus far, the policy advisors and number crunchers in Whitehall will be slow to release funds for this to be rolled out nationally.

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Written by debbielq

August 23, 2012 at 8:09 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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