It is estimated that around 46 million people worldwide have Alzheimer’s disease or a related type of dementia. This figure is estimated to increase to 131 million by the year 2050.
September 2016 will mark the fifth global World Alzheimer’s Month™, an international campaign to raise awareness of dementia and to help raise funds to support research into the disease. The key message for the campaign this year is “Remember Me” which encourages everyone in the community to share videos, photos and memories of a loved one on social media throughout the month of September.
Barchester’s Cheshire Grange Care Home in Lymm will be fully supporting World Alzheimer’s Month™ with a variety of activities in their Memory Lane Communities – specifically designed environments where people living with dementia can be supported with the care they need to help them adjust to living with the condition. More than 160 of Barchester’s 200 care homes have a Memory Lane Community and the nurses in these have specialist training to help them better understand each resident and their condition.
Jeni Davies, RMN, Deputy Manager at Cheshire Grange explains why the training is so important, “Each person in our Memory Lane Community is at a different stage of their dementia journey, so our nurses need to be capable of caring for each person individually.”
“At Barchester, we ensure our nurses receive the training they need to understand how dementia affects our residents. There are no doctors to consult within the care home environment, so our Dementia Induction and courses such as Distress Reaction enable our nurses to be completely self-sufficient. I have never had more training in my career.”
“Having dementia can be like peeling an onion layer by layer. Slowly the memories are peeled away as the short-term memory fades and so it continues until the long-term history is also lost. However, throughout this process all the feelings and emotions associated with those lost memories can still be felt. It is our job to ensure we get to know each resident’s life story, so we can help them live to their full potential while dealing with what can be a frightening and confusing time.”
Jeni says residents’ life stories are crutial to understanding their behaviour and form part of the Care Plan.
“We had a gentleman who would spend a great deal of time every night checking the texture of the clothes in his wardrobe and shutting all the doors in his room before going to bed. Throughout the process he would become particularly anxious and lost. After talking to his family, they explained he used to own a textile factory and he was going through the routine of ‘shutting up shop’ every night.”
“To alleviate his distress we gave him a list for his nightly routine which he could ‘tick off’ as each task was completed. This helped him to visibly relax and he would often sit with us checking off his list. It fills me with a deep sense of pride that we can help to alleviate the stress that our dementia residents inevitably suffer.”
“I originally worked as a linguist in the army for eight years; before leaving to have my children. When it was time to return to work I knew I wanted to do more to help people and became an RMN in 2006. During my time in the army I witnessed many people struggling with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. This experience and the realisation that by taking the time to understand how the smallest of tasks can trigger a distressful reaction lead me to work with dementia residents at Barchester.”
“Everything I have learned and know about dementia is filtered to everyone in the home and to the families of those in our care. We work together as a team to provide the best care and support we can.”
“We are looking forward to supporting World Alzheimer’s Month™ in lots of small ways at Cheshire Grange. We will be holding coffee mornings in our Memory Lane communities during September and encouraging staff, residents and their families to bring in their baby photos to run a competition guessing who is who. These simple activities are a great way to bring everyone together to celebrate the lives of our residents and to educate people about dementia.”
We will be sharing all our activities on social media this September with the hash tags #RememberMe #WAM2016