1. Expert Q&A: Living well as a carer - Thurs 29 August, 3-4pm

    As a carer for a person living with dementia, the needs of the person you care for will often come before your own. You may experience a range of difficult emotions and you may not have the time to do all the things you need to do. Caring can have a big impact on both your mental and physical health, as well as your overall wellbeing.

    Angelo, our Knowledge Officer (Wellbeing) is our expert on this topic. He will be here to answer your questions on Thursday 29 August between 3-4pm.

    You can either post questions >here< or email them to us at talkingpoint@alzheimers.org.uk and we'll answer as many as we can on the day.

SPECALSENSE-anyone following this way of care

Discussion in 'I care for a person with dementia' started by mcflod, Feb 10, 2014.

  1. mcflod

    mcflod Registered User

    Oct 17, 2012
    44
    Hi

    I've bought the book contented dementia and it explains about a way of caring called SPECALSENSE and I'm curious to see if anyone on here is using is method. I'm only about 60 pages in so far but what I've read makes sense, however I will need to retread it to take it all in properly.

    If you are or have used it any help advice would be much appreciated

    Kay
     
  2. copsham

    copsham Registered User

    Oct 11, 2012
    593
    Oxfordshire
    Hello Kay I found the ideas very helpful in the earlier stages. It helps relationships be less stressed and less conflictual. The ideas become habit and second nature, even if difficult at first.

    An example - my mother told me she had just got divorced (Dad died 20 yrs ago). Oh that's interesting I said. She told me that Dad would not be visiting as he does not know where she is! I said that there are lots of nice people here and she agreed and accepted a cup of tea. My brother walked in and Mum told him she had got divorced. He reminded her he had died. She disagreed got angry and then distressed.

    It is such second nature to ask questions and takes some time to not do so. Something as simple as "have you had lunch" can make Mum agitated. She is learning how to cope with questions though. She answers with Probably or I expect so and her catch all phrase of "how's the family?"

    I must say as the dementia gets worse it is still a compassionate way of being but other events seem to take over, the insistence on wandering and not being distracted, trying to poke a fork in a plug for example needs strong guidance for safety sake.

    It is an emotional path to be on and one day for me specialsense is the answer, a few months later coconut oil was the answer, important , helpful but do not do away with ravages of the disease.

    :)
     
  3. mcflod

    mcflod Registered User

    Oct 17, 2012
    44
     
  4. 2jays

    2jays Registered User

    Jun 4, 2010
    11,591
    West Midlands
    I used special sense when mum was at home.

    since mum has moved into care, I don't feel I'm as "in tune" with her as I was. This could be because I speak to her one way, the Carers another therefore a conflict/confusion for mum

    As with compassionate communication, I found special sense sometimes difficult to always follow. I felt at the time, and now, it is something that would work "better" in a care home environment but mums care home don't seem to know what I'm talking about - the Carers are wonderful, but I get the feeling that "they have more experience therefore know better" whenever I bring up the subject on how they communicate with mum.

    Whatever helps to get you through the day, a little bit of this book, a little bit of that one, in my opinion, what "works at the time" using any information/ideas must be the right way.

    it's so confusing at the begining trying to decide what to do, how to help. Just know what ever you are doing, you are doing your best as you see it at the time. DO NOT allow hindsight or the guilt monster have any room.

    xx
     
  5. Witzend

    Witzend Registered User

    Aug 29, 2007
    4,293
    SW London
    #5 Witzend, Feb 11, 2014
    Last edited: Feb 11, 2014
     
  6. Pookie

    Pookie Registered User

    Dec 29, 2011
    1,066
    Peter tries hard with SPECAL SENCE. He fimds it ok but then we're only learning about this disease. So COMMON SENSE rules most of tje time

    Peter&Jean Pookie
     
  7. Barlemo

    Barlemo Registered User

    Apr 23, 2012
    74
    I read Contented Dementia when my husband was first diagnosed almost two years ago. I felt that the methods were not appropriate at the time, it was too soon. However, it was helpful in dealing with my mother and mother in law (both are sufferers) especially in its advice about not asking them questions or contradicting them in any way. Perhaps I should revisit the book now with regard to my husband, as these days I seem to constantly get things wrong with whatever I say and do. The only thing I would say against SPECAL is that, from my memory of how it works, it does not really take into account your own feelings as a carer. We are not saints. Of course it is important to make your loved ones feel safe and secure and loved and understood and not stressed, etc. But sometimes, when you are stressed and lonely and misunderstood yourself, something snaps! Doesn't it? And then the SPECAL system goes awry. Having said that I do believe its basic principles are probably good. Although I think I am right in saying that the Alzheimers Society do not actually support the SPECAL.
     
  8. Raggedrobin

    Raggedrobin Registered User

    Jan 20, 2014
    1,432
    Anyone able to say in a nutshell what thus Specal or Special? System is? I haven't heard of it:)
     
  9. Pookie

    Pookie Registered User

    Dec 29, 2011
    1,066
    For me it's a way of avoiding arguments

    Peter&Jean Pookie
     
  10. mcflod

    mcflod Registered User

    Oct 17, 2012
    44
    Hi

    It's a way of trying to keep the person with alzheimers happy as much as possible and all to do with things from the past now being used in their present times. A quick eg, a lady who loved gardening was always looking for shears and cutting flower heads off much to hubby's annoyance so he hid shears thus causing distress to her trying to find them, specalsense, got him to plant shears all around the house so there always was shears to hand so she was happy and he adjusted to the fact that as long as she was happy it didnt matter there may be 10 pairs of shears lying around or heads of flowers were lobbed off. That's a v basic eg from the book.
     
  11. Raggedrobin

    Raggedrobin Registered User

    Jan 20, 2014
    1,432
    Thanks for that, interesting.:)
     
  12. sue@38

    sue@38 Registered User

    Jan 24, 2011
    13
    Have read Contented Dementia and felt it was really helpful - although we have not really got it working with Mum as it describes in the book. The very basic 'rules' about not asking questions and not contradicting what the person with dementia says however, are a fairly easy starting point. However, our Mum is increasingly in a 'different place' - sometimes thinking that her dad is still alive or that he has lost all his money or that she is not in her own house - trying to convince her that she is wrong about these matters doesn't really help her as it doesn't respond to the way she is feeling - and also makes her feel worse about herself that she is being told she's got it wrong ! The Contented dementia or specal sense approach is more about responding to the way the person is feeling rather than what they are actually saying and making them the expert - it also covers how to deal with medical appointments without causing worry and how to make best use of happy or positive memories - I'm re-reading at the moment - to try and build up some more ideas about how to respond to the things that my Mum says - I think it's worth a read !
     
  13. Specal Sense / Contented dementia

    I reviewed Contented Dementia on GoodReads and tried to summarise some of the approach but this site won't let me post the link.

    Someone recommended it warmly on the Woman's Hour discussion this morning as well.
     
  14. Winnie10

    Winnie10 Registered User

    Feb 25, 2013
    35
    I do like this book and it is very useful - However, I was lead to believe that the Alzheimer Society and many NHS/care homes do not approve of its methods.
     
  15. lizzybean

    lizzybean Registered User

    Feb 3, 2014
    1,398
    Lancashire
    I'm about half way thru reading it & some bits are very useful. The bit about conversations ie you try to get them on to a subject from their past that interests them & then they gabble away & you just sit and listen with the occasional um, ah, yes, really etc is great for me because the visits are now less stressful. It is the repetition that drives me crazy and will cut a visit short if particularly bad. Now, yes I'm hearing the same topics but it is stuff that she can chat on about with hardly any input from me, she is happier & so am I.

    It is not a bible & I can't expect nor teach (as the book suggests) everyone who comes into contact with her to adopt the same approach but for the moment I feel calmer & that makes for easier, better visits. I've just been away for the w'end & we didn't tell her we were going as it would have caused her great distress & anxiety, don't like one little bit lying but she was content all w'end with visits from friends & phone calls from me.
     
  16. stanleypj

    stanleypj Registered User

    Dec 8, 2011
    10,630
    North West
  17. Witzend

    Witzend Registered User

    Aug 29, 2007
    4,293
    SW London
    Quote from that review: '...it runs contrary to all that is enshrined within the Mental Capacity Act that supports decision making as memory and cognition progressively fail.'

    To me, theories and high-minded principles are all very well, but they must be tempered with common sense. We have heard of more than one instance on here (for example) of care home staff saying that they cannot bath or shower someone, because they must be offered the choice of whether they'd like to bath or shower, and the person invariably says no.

    Theory and day to day, practical, hands-on reality can be two very different things.
     
  18. stanleypj

    stanleypj Registered User

    Dec 8, 2011
    10,630
    North West
    I agree that this approach is ridiculous and is probably based on a mistaken interpretation of the Mental Capacity Act.

    Contented Dementia/SPECAL is the other side of the same coin. I was switched off right at the start of the book when the originator of the doctrine (the author's mother-in-law) addresses people who have a dementia diagnosis and tells them that from now on, regardless of their abilities and capacity, they don't need to worry about making any decisions themselves.

    The yardstick by which I judge all approaches is whether they acknowledge that people with dementia are unique individuals.
     
  19. Spamar

    Spamar Registered User

    Oct 5, 2013
    6,925
    Suffolk
    I've read it and before I got to the end decided that it was all too much trouble. However, I suppose I use some of the theories where they don't differ from the compassionate care approach. As 2jays, I think said, everyone is different, and that includes patients as well as Carers.
    One point I did notice someone said the ch(?)Carers said there way is best. It isn't. You know your caree much better than they do, and the way they react. No one else has that knowledge.
     

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