Dementia comes in many forms, every person’s experience will be different, so the level of care and support that people with dementia need is completely individual.
For our residents who are experiencing the symptoms of dementia, getting to know and understand them is vital.
That is why, when a new resident joins our home, we take as much time as possible to talk to their family and friends. The more we can understand about who they are, and their life before the onset of dementia, the better able our care and nursing teams will be to meet their needs now.
People experiencing dementia may have difficulty retaining or processing information. This can be frightening for them, as well as for their relatives. By getting to know their preferences our care teams help them to feel comfortable and settled. This can start with something as simple as whether they have always preferred to have a cup of tea before getting up, or afterwards. It is often a person’s lifelong habits that remain familiar and comforting.
We also understand how difficult it can be for relatives to see a loved one with dementia. When someone no longer recognises you, or their personality changes, it is natural to grieve for the person you feel you are losing. We spend time helping families to come to terms with what is happening, and how to handle it.
Our activities teams will spend time understanding what stimulates and interests each resident, in order to include relevant activities in their personal care plan. When residents cannot tell us verbally what they want, our staff are trained to recognise the signs they give us. Music can be a powerful tool – familiar tunes from youth can bring great joy, and it is not uncommon for people who rarely, or never, speak, to sing along to favourite tunes, or for those who spend most of their time sitting to get up and dance.
People experiencing dementia often become confused about their surroundings, and many of our residents’ relatives seek residential or nursing care for them because they fear for their safety – perhaps because they have begun to leave their homes and become confused and lost. At our home, the specialist dementia care suite is fully secure, providing total reassurance that loved ones will remain safe.
Some signs are more subtle. It may be that someone prefers peace and quiet, with pictures, textures, or colours of more interest. We decorate our dementia care suites with a range of images – Hollywood stars, sports personalities or vintage photos, for example – to provide a range of stimuli for the memory.
Photos of the family, and of the resident as a younger person, often help them to feel more comfortable, and photos on their door or familiar items in a box outside their room help them to recognise their new home.
Our staff are trained to be able to tell when someone is bored, unhappy, or simply tired. Dementia affects many people’s sleep patterns, making them restless at night. So our carers will vary their routine according to what they need. We never insist someone gets up at a certain time. After all, this is their home, and at home, we all want a lie-in from time to time.
Dementia is a progressive condition, and our trained nursing, care and activities teams will constantly assess their physical, mental and emotional health to ensure that their changing needs are met. As relatives or friends, you become part of the family, too. Our residents’ needs come first, but you will always be welcome to visit, and to talk to the care teams about any aspect of their care.
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