Carers Group: 9/11/20

Plenty to talk about, as usual. We had some thought provoking updates from our group members. There were contrasting experiences in the last month while our carers tried to do the best for those they cared for.

Dementia Carers Count training

We had some more positive feedback on a free training event with Dementia Carers Count. The charity runs a variety of events and it is worth checking out their website, or contacting them, to see if there is something suitable for you. You can find out more information about their training events here.

The same group member told us she had come through a tough period caring for her mum, but now she said she was receiving “excellent support”. She had all ends covered, with help from a speech therapist and an incontinence nurse. Her mum was now more settled.

She recommended sharing experiences and asking questions on the Alzheimer’s Society’s Dementia Talking Point. They say “Have you or someone you know been diagnosed with dementia? Join Dementia Talking Point to share experiences with other people affected by dementia“.

The Admiral Nurses had also provided advice and support. They say “When things get challenging or difficult, Admiral Nurses work alongside people with dementia, and their families: giving them one-to-one support, expert guidance and practical solutions. The unique dementia expertise and experience an Admiral Nurse brings is a lifeline – it helps families to live more positively with dementia in the present, and to face the challenges of tomorrow with more confidence and less fear.”

Visiting a care home (revisited)

Last time a carer had said her mum’s care home intended to use a ‘visiting suite’ – this is a room with a floor to ceiling perspex screen and an intercom system for speaking. The home had done just this. As a result, visitors could still come, even in lockdown. Meetings were limited to 30 minutes, whit 15 minutes of room cleaning either side of the visit. While not perfect, it did mean the daughter and husband could visit (separately). Our group member said the staff at the home also seemed to have developed a strong rapport with her mum. All encouraging work.

How long does it take to plug-in a mobile phone?

Another carer had a less positive experience with a care home. Their person has dementia and special educational needs. This person likes to call people they know on their mobile phone. Now this is they only real contact with the outside world. Unfortunately, the care home staff we ‘too busy’ to plug-in and charge the phone when it went flat. When the manager was questioned, she agreed that the staff were too busy. Anyone wishing to speak to someone in the home were advised to ring the home on the landline and they would be connected. When this was tried, the staff were ‘too busy’ to put them through. Tatiana’s advice was to talk to the funding authority to ensure they had a review of the service they were paying the home to provide.

Fresh air and exercise

One carer said she would prefer just to listen at the session (which is ok with us) but then she opened up about her husband, who has a whole variety of ailments. She said things changed from week to week. Last week was “brilliant”, this week wasn’t. They had managed to arrange a community physiotherapist. He had even managed to go to some exercise classes (he got bored and does not go now). Through the recent period, they still managed to get out and sample the fresh air and take a look at the Thames.

Should I stay or should I go?

Our only male carer this evening told us his wife “doesn’t understand how the world works anymore”. He said she was not clear about using the toilet and might think about popping-in for an hour or so, before venturing in – or not. He was hopeful when they had a visit from the incontinence nurse. She said something along the lines of “yes, people with dementia get like that”. And, that was it. He is coping.

Putting the clocks back

Most of us get a little confused when we put the clocks back. All of a sudden it seems it is dark in the middle of the afternoon. For someone with dementia, this can be even more unsettling. A group member said the change in the clocks and the darker evenings had made her dad more confused. His slightly obsessive behaviour had become worse. She said the family were coping and his change from a rather silent man to a chatty one, was an interesting development.

Staying healthy in lockdown: a BUPA GP’s top 10 tips

Peter summarised the advice from the BUPA site, which you can read here. Many of the point identified in the ‘Top tips’ had come up in this evenings discussions. The short presentation was aimed at reminding members that we all needed to not just understand the tips, but put then into practice.

I, for one, went off to practice the tips.

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