1. Martyn

    Martyn Registered User

    Dec 18, 2006
    Hi all
    I have just retired from The Police(I was a Village Bobby) and I have been accepted as an "Activities Co-ordinator" on the Alzheimers' Wing of a local Nursing Home. I have spent a considerable amount of time researching the condition on the net and have come across your site. I know it sounds naff saying this but I would really like to "make a difference". My predecessor appears to have gone through the basics ie being kind and understanding and organising very mundane activities. I would really value advice from people who have had to cope with relatives and friends who are in the latter stages of AD.
    thanks(in anticipation)
  2. Norman

    Norman Registered User

    Oct 9, 2003
    Birmingham Hades
  3. Martyn

    Martyn Registered User

    Dec 18, 2006
    Many thanks Norman - I have had a quick glance at the site and will go through it more thoroughly tomorrow. Just the kind of answer I was looking for.
  4. Martyn

    Martyn Registered User

    Dec 18, 2006
    Many thanks Nada
  5. blue sea

    blue sea Registered User

    Aug 24, 2005
    #5 blue sea, Dec 30, 2006
    Last edited: Dec 31, 2006
    Hi Martyn

    I wish there had been someone like you to help my dad in his last few months. These points are entirely personal to my own experience.

    Treat each person as an individual. My Dad never liked 'soaps' or TV in general nor 'making things' yet the TV in the lounge was always on and any attempt at activities were based round art. He did enjoy ballroom dancing and one carer discovered this and used to put music on and dance round the room with him - wonderful to see him laugh and smile. So it is worth asking relatives what past interests were. However limited the person seems, sometimes a tune or image or phrase can help you connect with them.

    I found looking at the same key photographs regularly with dad helped retain some memories of close relatives. Often the longer term memory is better so photos of his childhood, war service, his parents etc, triggered reactions.

    I think that it is essential, however restricted the person is physically, for there to be some opportunities for fresh air - to sit in the sun or have the bed moved to a view through the window. Dad enjoyed sitting in the garden in the home , even if only for 5 minutes (his attention span was very poor), it was a change of scene and a link with the 'normal' world.

    Don't talk to the person like a small child. Be patient, speak slowly and simply, but not in a partonising way. If they are seated, get down to face level and have eye contact. Smile and speak gently. Use their name. Dad could still 'understand' pleasantries about, say the weather, long after he had forgotten my name.

    It is hard but very rewarding to work with people with dementia. It makes you a better person as you learn to respect all life. Good luck!

    Blue sea
  6. Martyn

    Martyn Registered User

    Dec 18, 2006
    Thanks Blue Sea - That is exactly the type of answer I wanted .
  7. Martyn

    Martyn Registered User

    Dec 18, 2006
    Well half way through my first week and it has been a real eye opener. It is amazing how different families cope with this awful disease. One lady's son visits here every night and takes her out for around 15 minutes on his way home from work. She does not know him and cannot express herself but at the same time every night she appears in the lounge just before he comes to collect her. A 92nd Birthday celebrated today, Son and Daughter appeared and with all the staff and other clients present we produced a cake and sang happy birthday-wonderful stuff!! Others haven't had a visit for months even though they have family whilst some clients are so elderly that all friends and relatives have long since died out. One thing I have to say I have never met a race of people so understanding and patient as the Phillipino Staff I work with. Always a smile on their faces whatever happens, always ready to stop and have a chat with a client and patience is their greatest virtue followed closely by a great sense of humour.
    I will be spending the first week getting to know about each client so at least I can hold my own in a conversation.
    Second week I will be working out a group activites programme and am awaiting arrival of a book suggested to me on here.
    One gripe about it all. I am lucky I have a pension but the wages are absolutely abysmal. As far as Im concerned the committment of the staff I work with is worth at least double what they are paid.
  8. Amy

    Amy Registered User

    Jan 4, 2006
    Pleased it is going well Martyn. Keep us updated.
    Love Helen
  9. Brucie

    Brucie Registered User

    Jan 31, 2004
    near London
    I absolutely agree. Many of the assistants at my wife's care home are from the Phillipines, and they are fantastic.

    One of them, every Christmas, makes every single Christmas decoration for the whole care home, by hand, from pretty much anything that comes to hand. And the decorations are absolutely magnificent.
    yes, the pay levels are chronic, the commitment fantastic.
  10. Grannie G

    Grannie G Volunteer Moderator

    Apr 3, 2006
    Hi Martyn, It`s really good to have a bit of inside insight. I hope you keep reporting to us. It will be well appreciated.
    I endorse your comments about Phillipino care staff. They made up most of the staff at my neighbours home and were wonderful. We could learn a lot from them about respect for the aged.
    Thank you, Sylvia
  11. Martyn

    Martyn Registered User

    Dec 18, 2006
    #11 Martyn, Jan 15, 2007
    Last edited: Jan 16, 2007
    Have started Group Activities today. A Beetle Drive was a nightmare to organise because, even at the latter end of the illness, there are still different stages and some clients get frustrated with others who take a little longer to shake the dice, draw the beetle etc. Because of this I had to pre-empt a possible violent situation saw it in time and managed to diffuse it.
    It is interesting that people who have obviously used aggression to deal with incidents in the past are still capable of using the same methods even now. Alternatively there are those who have never been violent in their lives who will not get involved when things get tense.
    Community Singing tomorrow - hopefully it will be easier?
  12. Martyn

    Martyn Registered User

    Dec 18, 2006
    Well that's my first two weeks completed and Im actually looking forward to going to work tomorrow(haven't felt like that for a few years-lol). I took the job with the, perhaps naive, intention of making a difference(it certainly wasn't for the money). I still feel the same but I am under no illusion that the difference is made daily and my clients will never look forward to a particular item on my weekly programme.
    It has been an amazing initiation, I have a client who was one of the last soldiers to leave Dunkirk(he still remembers his pay number), another who was an Engineering Wing Commander in The RAF who oversaw the transition from ordinary engines to jet propulsion. A Lady who played hockey and tennis for Kent and another who, herself, was a nurse in an Alzheimers Ward.
    I cannot emphasise enough the importance of life history information when your nearest and dearest are admitted into care. There are people I work with who have half a page covering their whole life whilst others have a full file.
    Even if you are caught unawares when asked to give a life history, make a point of adding the little bits and pieces that come to mind at a later date. Any old photos you find, make sure they are made available. Listen to relatives' anecdotes and pass them on. Even in the short time I have been involved in this type of work I cannot describe the feeling when you see a flicker of recognition when you touch on a subject that strikes a chord in someone's memory.
    regards to all
  13. mel

    mel Registered User

    Apr 30, 2006
    Hi Martyn
    Thanks for that information......as mum will shortly be going into nursing care I will certainly give mums past a lot of thought and write it down for the home.....
    I'm really glad to see you're enjoying your job.....your enthusiasm really shows
    love Wendy
  14. Martyn

    Martyn Registered User

    Dec 18, 2006
    #14 Martyn, Feb 20, 2007
    Last edited: Feb 20, 2007
    7 weeks has passed now and I am as enthusiastic as ever. When I started I decided to wear a red T Shirt to work and although my clients don't recognise me they do relate to my "uniform" as opposed to those of the carers. I do get a smile and a greeting every morning when I walk into breakfast and I am under no illusions that it is the shirt rather than me - but hey, it starts my day of well!
    I may have said that most of my clients are in the latter stages of Dementia and AD but the majority are still mobile(some with assistance)and this does cause a problem within the home. There have been several falls although thankfully it has resulted in bruises rather than breaks but there have been complaints from relatives as to "standards of care". The problem is that there are not enough carers to be with clients every minute of the day and invariably accidents will happen.
    Nowadays every bruise or injury has to be accounted for, and rightly so, but the only alternative seems to be confinement to rooms. Do you, as relatives, really want that??
    The paperwork is a nightmare( I am used to that from my previous occupation) each day I take an hour to write up notes on each clients' file as to what I have done with them and their re-action.
    Finally I have had some lovely conversations with people who can remember times when I was a lad, but little else and The "Dambusters Video" was treat to behold with the whole room humming the tune
    Still in there and enjoying it.
  15. Robbie

    Robbie Registered User

    Feb 22, 2007
    East Yorkshire
    Use of historical material

    Hi Martyn

    I have read your comments for the first time today having only just found this site. I was interested in your comment on the importance of historical information when dementia sufferers go into care. I am a retired CPN and can't agree with you more. I always took a good full history when assessing my clients and this of course came to be vital later on. Also the use of photos. I had one client with a multi infarct dementia who had major speech difficulties, which caused him much frustration. With the help of his family we put together a photographic journal consisting of not only the significant people in his life but also his past work, hobbies and interests etc. He carried it with him everywhere and was able to use these in communicating with others thus relieving much of his frustration. Good luck with your job.

  16. Skye

    Skye Registered User

    Aug 29, 2006
    SW Scotland
    Hi Martyn

    Just been reading your thread. I read your first post, then sort of forgot about it.

    I just wanted to tell you how interesting it is. I've recently been looking at NHs for my husband, but couldn't get over the first feelings that he would hate it. Your kind of inside information is invaluable, and may make those of us in this situation think again about the possibilities.

    I hope you keep posting, I'll make sure I keep up now.

    Thanks again,
  17. Chris

    Chris Registered User

    May 20, 2003
    Website to try

    Hello Martyn

    This is one of my favourite dementia websites, www.dementiapositive.co.uk/pp011.shtml

    Also , Have you tried gardening activities ? I volunteer with therapeutic horticulturalists providing sessions at a dementia care home, most people in their 60s , 70s & 80s did more gardening in younger days than people do these days (in general !) - there was Dig for Victory etc in the war , plants & flowers as well as the activity itself often evokes memories - brides bouqet, making daisy chains as a child, picking buttercups, bluebells, and we find the aroma of compost (we have to use the dining room table !!!!), reminds people of walking in the woods - I could write a book !! Its a great way to connect with the season of the year too. If you have a conservatory of very sheltered outdoor space, even better.

    Good luck , you seem to be doing very well, so soon. Chris
  18. DeborahBlythe

    DeborahBlythe Registered User

    Dec 1, 2006
    Martyn, it's really great that you are so enthusiastic and committed. Don't give up. You're doing a great job. Wish there was someone like you at my mum's NH.
  19. Martyn

    Martyn Registered User

    Dec 18, 2006
    #19 Martyn, Mar 6, 2007
    Last edited: Mar 6, 2007
    Thanks Robbie and Chris
    I really appreciate input such as yours and I am always on the lookout for anything that will help maintain the quality of life of my clients. The Journal is one that I am currently trying out and I am in the throes of sending out letters to relatives asking them for life histories told through photographs and anecdotes etc. This is where I am finding who really cares about their loved ones and those just going through the motions. I have had some really good responses from some, whilst others make the right noises until it actually comes down to producing the goods.
    As for the Gardening? Unfortunately I have never been a gardener so I am having to research this to find out more. I had an idea of window boxes but I am encountering all sorts of difficulties and although we have a communal area it will go down like a "lead baloon" if I start a gardening club in there. Any further advice on "indoor gardening" would be gratefully accepted"
    I am now about to commence my 3rd month in the job(pay rise of 50p per hour-wow!) I have just started an Armchair Excercise Course run by the Keep Fit Association which should be interesting when I inflict it on my clients! I now consider myself an expert on bubble therapy and aromatherapy. Every day is still different!
  20. alfjess

    alfjess Registered User

    Jul 10, 2006
    south lanarkshire
    Hi Martyn

    I have never heard of bubble therapy, can you enlighten me

    Thanks Alfjess

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