We take a personal and sensitive approach to dementia care as we understand that the symptoms vary quite considerably from person to person. Consistency of routine and surroundings provide comfort and reassurance, and being immersed in a home full of memories is often invaluable.
Every day is different, says Jane, live in carer to a lovely lady who is in the very challenging later stages of dementia.
“We get up and as I make our morning cup of tea, I work out whether today we’re on holiday in a lovely hotel or if we’re back in hospital and I’m a nurse she’s cross with. Sometimes we are back in her childhood home and we have a dog. But I start every day by working out where we are in my client’s head and go along with her story to ensure she stays calm and happy.”
Jane started working with her client in January 2020 and it was her first live in carer role. Jane normally lives on a farm in Bulgaria with her husband, horses, two Shetland ponies, several dogs and countless chicken and sheep, overseeing a house renovation project. But for several months of the year she is a Live in Carer with Ashridge Home Care in a busy Buckinghamshire town where her client has lived all her life. Jane was recommended to Ashridge by her friend Marissa who is also a live in carer for a client nearby. After an intensive training course with Ashridge, Jane was matched with her client.
Unfortunately, her client had experienced a fall and spent two weeks in hospital at which point it was clear that she would be unable to come home alone and recover well without 24 hour care. Her family spoke with Ashridge Home Care and now Jane lives with her making sure she is safe and well cared for and remains in her own home.
It was a hard struggle at first, as dementia can make people very confused and frightened, so much so that the lady would bash on the windows in frustration. It was a long gradual process of gaining her trust but now they have a fantastic relationship and Jane is most definitely a familiar face.
Dementia is such a challenging illness but by being kind and gentle Jane was able to penetrate and become part of her client’s world.
It’s the small changes that made a huge difference. Jane worked out that her client loves birds so she moved the kitchen table to face the garden window and hung lots of bird feeders up outside, so now they start every day by having their morning tea at the table watching the birds.
When Jane first arrived, her client was unable to look after herself properly and daily routines such as washing herself, her clothes or her environment had become very difficult. So with her previous career as a beautician, Jane decided to give her client sofa baths downstairs, rather than attempt to force her into the bath. They now have regular spa sessions and Jane does her nails and make up and they not only only take great pleasure in those times but also real pride and excitement. Jane said “It brings her true joy to look her best. “
Every day Jane has to judge whether they are able to go out and get some fresh air or maybe have lunch at the local Morrisons café together. “She can’t resist a custard cream, “ says Jane, “so if she’s having an off day and won’t take her medication, I can hide her tablets in a biscuit and she simply can’t resist.” This way Jane ensures her client takes her medication regularly.
“I love to cook so we eat home cooked fresh meals every day. At first I was a little nervous but my friend assured me that I had the right personality to care and Ashridge are always on the end of the phone and I use WhatsApp to reach the team if there’s something I’m unsure about. I think I’m lucky to have found Ashridge Home Care. It’s a really nice company to work for as they treat us all like human beings, carers and clients alike.”
“I would recommend being a carer to others, if you’ve got lots of patience and understanding. I think it helps if you’ve had life experience yourself.”
“My client really reminds me of my grandma that I used to look after. She’s very particular about looking her best and having her hair done regularly. It’s been a roller coaster and it took me a while to win her trust and soothe her through her fears and anxieties but now we have real fun together and I love looking after her.”
Trudi Scrivener, owner of Ashridge Home Care commented: “Jane is such a fabulous example of how kindness and perseverance in a carer can overcome true fear and isolation for the client. She does an amazing job with someone who is in the very challenging later stages of dementia and I have huge respect for how she deals with our client.
“It’s been a joy to watch their relationship develop and how much her client now trusts her. This is certainly a wonderful example of how live in home care meant this lady did not have to go to residential care that is often the default decision for many. It would have been very easy for the family to think that because of this ladies aggressive behaviour she could not be cared for at home, but Jane’s kindness and professional approach has proved that actually home is the best place for her.” Trudi added.
Choosing live-in care for a loved one with dementia is a huge decision and not something that you should take lightly. Some of these conversations can be tricky and it’s our job to make sure you feel as comfortable as possible. We are more than happy to visit you and your family at home to discuss your situation and consider the options available to you.