As we reach the mid point of dementia awareness week it brings a smile to my face to share Tatjana's success story with you.
Some time ago I was the 1 to 1 live in carer for a nice man John who lived in the care home. But we never mentioned that it was a care home, it was a HOTEL. John was diagnosed with vascular dementia , had poor eyesight and decreased mobility and speech problems.
When he was feeling relaxed and contented (we called this 'green'), we could communicate nicely, remembering his past, especially the time when he was a school teacher, and his pilot's courses in Canada. We could do that almost every day and these memories made John happy. But very often John got confused, anxious and aggressive (we called this 'red'), and sometimes it was very difficult to transfer him from the 'red spot' back to 'green'.
Once, when I came to his room in the morning, I found him very anxious, his face was red, and he was ready to run somewhere. He was very confused and obsessed with one problem that he felt we should solve immediately. He said to me that his car was broken and he urgently needed to take it to the mechanic. By the way, John spent a great deal of his day in a wheelchair. I knew that the only thing that could help me to move John to the 'green spot', was that I should become a member of his club. In a confident voice I said to John that I got a call from the mechanic, he had collected John's car already and promised to bring his car and leave it in the parking place. I did not expect what John was going to say next, but John wanted to see the parking place immediately, in case the mechanic left the car already! I wheeled John out of the house and we started to check each car on the parking place. We stopped at each car, discussed it, talked about the car brands, engines, brake boots, etc. Time passed very slowly, but John did not want to leave the parking place. Another bright idea sparkled in my mind and I mentioned to John that many other people were waiting for their cars to be repaired. I did not expect what John could offer, but he said that he would like to talk to these people. I wheeled John to the care home lounge and started to talk to some residents, hoping that my idea would work! I selected the ones who would be able to understand the rules of my game. I came up to the residents, asking if they were waiting for their cars to be repaired. I stood behind John and with my gestures and face expression tried to prompt what they were supposed to answer. Thanks to God the residents whom we talked to understood and gave perfect answers which reassured John. We had a lovely conversation with them, and John started to calm down and forgot that his car was broken. It took me about two hours to change John's mood, but even later on in similar situations 'membership in his club' helped me a lot when I needed to transfer him from the 'red spot' to 'green'.
I'm sure there have been times when you all have had to 'join' an unusual club in order to stay alongside your client during a difficult moment!
Zoe Elkins, Head of Care, The Good Care Group