Published by Helping Hands on
22 May 2013
Dementia Care – Case Study
Angela Laurence, our Local Care Services Manager for Hertfordshire, shares her tips for helping your carers to better support those customers living with Dementia or Alzheimer’s.
Prompted by requests from her carers for ideas to better engage their customers Angela has recently invested in her own Dementia Toolkit, which she lends out to her care team so they can try different ways of enabling their customers to re-learn life skills, interact more with others and try new activities. The monies for the toolkit came from the East team’s regional budget.
Angela’s toolkit is in its early stages of development and testing and has had varied results with different customers.
It currently includes:
Large piece puzzles / Painting by numbers / Large Print Flash Cards / Alphabet Cards that can be used for a variety of games / Ball bearing maze puzzles / Scratch Art pictures / Black paper and chalk / Meccano / Duplo and Lego.
One of Angela’s customers living with Dementia had become somewhat forgetful and most mornings he would get up and become agitated due to the fact that his car was no longer on the drive. In his mind the car had been stolen, but in reality it had been sold some time ago and he was no longer able to drive.
This gentleman had a working background in engineering and would often spend time out in his garage moving his collection of tools around. Angela decided to look for something that would focus the customer’s attention, make use of his logical mind and put his previous work skills into use.
She decided to introduce Mecanno and Lego to his carer, as an activity that they could spend time doing together.
They spent over an hour together on the first session building items, working together to follow the instructions provided and both felt a sense of achievement at what they’d made. The customer engaged well with the carer throughout and these activities have made a real difference for both of them. The carer said that it was great to have something to offer him, something that they could do together.
As a result of the customer’s family seeing the impact this kind of activity has had on their father and how it takes his mind off other things, they have now bought similar items for him, and regular activity sessions are planned 2 or 3 times each week.
Angela says that’s even when the activity itself hasn’t been successful with a particular customer that there have still been positive outcomes as the carer and customer have both benefitted from spending time together engaging with each other. This process itself can lead to other activities being tried which may be more suited to that customer. Each customer is different and we need to find ways to engage with each of them on an individual level, in ways that suit them.
Why Activities Help
Although they don’t slow down the progression of these conditions, activities do improve the quality of life for those living with Dementia or Alzheimer’s. Games, puzzles, assisting with housework, and other activities can lessen agitation and depression. Activities can also help maintain motor skills that aid daily tasks such as buttoning a shirt or recognizing household objects. Activities that match a person’s skill level also give them a sense of ownership and independence, and when the customer completes an activity, they gain a sense of accomplishment.
Some of you will have other ideas and activities that you have found successful in engaging our customers.
We would love to hear them. Please share them with us.
As over half of our customers have some form of memory loss it is in our and their interests that we are innovative in the ways we help our customers and carers manage.