By Sharon Forbes, Service Manager for Adults with a Learning Disability & Older People at Catholic Care (Diocese of Leeds)
All the groups and activities we run at Catholic Care Leeds are inclusive of all denominations and welcome people who live with dementia. People whose lives are touched by dementia attend the Harrogate luncheon club (with support from a family member and carer), two ladies attend the exercise class in Normanton with their husbands who then leave to do other things – one gentleman said he goes home to catch up on the housework and in his words, “enjoy a cup of coffee on my own”. This respite time for carers is incredibly important.
We are aware that people with dementia can have difficulty with: remembering what they are doing, finding the right word for something, recollecting names and faces, understanding instructions, getting around in new and confusing environments.
With these things in mind, we welcome people when they arrive and wear badges that remind people who we are and will make it easy for people to know who can help them. Everyone is greeted warmly and with a smile, ensuring we make eye contact; we use a friendly tone of voice, speaking clearly and slowly so allowing people time to understand what is being said. We listen carefully to what people say and give plenty of encouragement, we have the room set out in a welcoming way, make it easy to get around and where possible we try to keep things the same because we are aware that change can be confusing. We also have somewhere people can sit that is quieter if they need a break, we support people in a non intrusive way, encouraging ability whilst it is still present, but ensuring that any support given is not overtly obvious.
We have experienced great acceptance from other groups members who have become, for want of a better word, quite ‘protective’ of the person.
All our activities are supported by the Domiciliary Care Team who are on hand to support either the person living with dementia or their carers. We also work closely with professional agencies who can offer additional advise and support where necessary.
The views expressed in this blog are not CSAN policy.