Tag Archives: Good Practise

Dementia: Going Dancing Again

 

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Maureen and I strutted our stuff on the ‘dance floor’ at Alderlea Care Home yesterday.  How could I refuse a ladies invitation dance when my wife had said ‘can we do this one?’  I may be wrong but I think she even allowed me to lead as we moved around the floor.  Our dance was another indication of how settled Maureen has become at Alderlea.

I’m going to Coventry for more dancing this morning.  I need some further tuition from my mum.  She used to wait up for me on my return from Victor Sylvester’s all those years ago. Clad in her dressing gown she would help me to remember my steps.  Even if she is sleepy on my arrival at her Care Home I know I can get her feet tapping to Nat King Cole or Frank Sintra if I pick the right moment

I also think I can get the master of the jive, that big brother of mine, to reminisce about his days when they would be queuing up to partner him at the Locarno.   Elvis or Bill Haley will hopefully bring a smile to his face as he sits in his favourite spot in his Nursing Home.

I have yet to see a situation where music fails to transform those with dementia.  The Entertainments Organiser at Alderlea worked wonders yesterday.  She danced with those who needed a walking frame, held hands with those who were unable to stand and gave her wonderful smile to those who couldn’t speak.  Little wonder that Maureen has settled in a place where the staff always do their best for the residents.

 

Dementia: More Than Words

Maureen caught me at it early this morning – whistling this number in the kitchen:

When she found me clearing up the debris from last night’s meal she was holding two blankets.  She had spent the night on the safety of the sofa: a place where men would find it difficult to get at her.  As soon as she saw me she gave me a beautiful smile so I  hugged her and burst into the above song.

I then told her I was going to remind her of the first cassette tape she had ever bought for me:

As soon as the opening lines appeared on out TV screen Maureen said: ‘I remember that one’.  Music continues to be such an important part of our life and Girl Monday/Tuesday and Friday often resorts to YouTube.  When I return from my time off  I hear them at it, with singing and laughter ringing out as soon as I open our front door.

The first meeting with Maureen’s Care Coordinator went really well yesterday.  When I mentioned the need for clarification over Maureen’s diagnosis she agreed that it was a matter that needed clarifying – ‘there was nothing to lose’ by revisiting this issue.  It has always concerned me that Alzheimer’s was diagnosed in the early days but that has now been revised to vascular dementia.

The really good news from yesterday was there is now a Crisis Contingency Plan in place with numbers to ring whenever the going gets tough: far more than words! 

 

Dementia: Konar – I Was So Wrong!

This week’s song of the week has to be ‘So Wrong’.  I thought that Maureen going into an Acute Mental Health Unit would be a disaster for us both.  It’s a time to eat my words.

The Konar Suite is nothing like your typical Mental Health Unit.  My reservations that they would turn her into something like my brother well ill-conceived.  He has Alzheimer’s and came out of an MHU in Coventry a shadow of his former self: goodness knows what they did to him.

I have to admit it took me a while to trust the medics on the Konar Suite with my dear wife.  I must have been deaf to have not listened at first hearing.  Their message was loud and clear ‘we have to weigh up the benefits of any medication against the risks involved’.

Maureen is settling well after three weeks away from home.  She generally makes her way up to our bedroom at night after dozing on the sofa for a while.  That is another thing I have to thank the staff on the Konar for – not only did they encourage her to sleep in a bed whilst she was in their care; they coached me on how to do the same when she came home.

Although Maureen has been discharged from the Konar Suite staff are always available for out of hours telephone advice and will make a home visit in an emergency.

 

Dementia: From Dancing Queen To Despair

 

The words of Maureen’s Consultant on the Konar Suite rang out this morning: ‘there will be fluctuations in her presntation’:

Monday evening: As I prepared our evening meal Maureen was in exceptional form.  She sang and danced along to some of our favourite records.  Sometimes she invited me to join her at others she pranced around the dining room like a ballet dancer.  I have a lovely video clip of her virtuoso performance that I am not able to post here.

Wednesday morning:  Maureen stirred beside me in bed a short while ago, so I greeted her as Charlie Drake with: ‘hello my darling’.  She responded with: ‘I want to go home, I hate it here: no one ever comes to see me’.  When I foolishly responded with ‘I’m here’ she said: ‘you only feed me to keep me to keep me alive and you never take me anywhere’.

I accept that Maureen’s presentation will continue to fluctuate.  However, we do struggle for visitors as our closest family members live over a hundred miles away and lead busy lives.  However, I’m hoping the VACANCIES SIGN on our newly built Sun Room might help on that front.  We are now well equipped to cope with a couple of visitors overnight in our en-suite extension and look forward to the bookings rolling in.

 

 

Dementia: Coming Home

 

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It is now a week since Maureen’s discharge from the Konar Suite.  She is beginning to settle down to being back home after three weeks in an Acute Mental Health Unit.  Just as her Consultant stressed her presentation is subject to fluctuation.   My status can change from her husband to the wicked man who is stopping her from going home at the drop of a hat: from hero to zero.

We still have great fun together and Maureen’s wicked sense of humour shone through when she was in the hospital.  When a staff member was encouraging her to take lunch Maureen said ‘she wasn’t hungry and suggested that the individual concerned would be well advised to eat a little less’.   I’m not always sure our larking about is always well received by professionals when they call.  I hope it doesn’t lead to them to place us on some psychiatric scale.

I’m doing my best to stick to routines that help Maureen’s dilemma of ‘not knowing what to do with her time’.  It is now very obvious that she needs prompting to complete most tasks.  Her days of hanging out washing on the line have gone.  She can manage to assist with such tasks but forgets what she is meant to be doing if she is left to her own devices.

We slept together beautifully last night and that is a real bonus in the scheme of things.  I know it’s very early days but I’m optimistic that things can only get better if I continue to take breaks and don’t try to do it all by myself.  It is so reassuring that the Home Treatment Team are monitoring how things are going and are calling shortly for yet another chat.

I have to admit my reservations about Maureen going into the Konar Suite were ill-conceived.  They treated us both with the utmost dignity and respect along with lots of TLC.  To experience a Mental Health Unit that does not see medication as the answer to everything was so refreshing!

 

Dementia: Together Again

This is one of our favourites from Emmylou:

We had a lovely day yesterday.  Maureen was so pleased to see her GP after three weeks with ‘Witch Doctors and magic spells’ on the Konar Suite.

She amazed me in the evening when we popped in to see our old friends at Carpet Bowls.  We hadn’t been for years but she blended in as if it had been the previous week.  Our old friends were really pleased to see us again and people we didn’t know treated her with real compassion.  Then to top it all we have spent a restful night together in the marital bed.

After another appointment with a ‘Real Doctor’ this morning we could pop in to see our dancing friends.  To be Together Again on the dance floor after all this time would really be something!

Dementia: Kindness and Compassion

Today’s teaching from Dekyong is very appropriate:

When I called in to see Maureen yesterday morning she was fast asleep in bed.

She looked so peaceful that I saw no point in waking her.

A member of staff suggested that I take the day off.

She then invited me to have Sunday Lunch with Maureen.

Kindness and compassion are always on offer in the  Konar Suite.

 

 

Dementia: Konar – It’s A Kind Of Magic!

When I arrived to visit Maureen yesterday morning a member of staff said you should see your ‘Polynesian Princess today’.  When I saw her looking stunning and happily singing along to the background music I realised I had been on the wrong mission.  My campaign to get her home as quickly as possible had been short-sighted.

Maureen gave me a beautiful smile when she saw me.  I joked that I had been drawn to this silver-haired lady singing in the corner before I realised it was my wife.  She is used to this sort of thing and carried on singing.   I left her to it and made my way to one of the areas set aside for visitors.  Maureen sought me out a while later with: ‘there you are I’ve been looking for you’.  She then told me that ‘magic was taking place in here’.

I returned to Konar later in the day and saw the’magic’ in action first hand.  Maureen was in extreme discomfort as her system had become seized up.  The efforts that staff went to as they helped things to move was indeed ‘magic’.  I played my part by holding her hand whilst we walked around: it was too painful for Maureen to sit down.  Despite tea being served a magician arrived and helped to ease Maureen’s discomfort as laxatives and gravity eventually did the trick.  Then our wonderful magician held Maureen’s hand as she walked her down the corridor for her evening meal.

Maureen is right magic is taking place in Konar.  She has experienced TLC from the moment she was admitted.  How on earth they are able to do this in an Acute Mental Health Unit has to be a kind of magic.

 

Dementia: Have NAViGO Lost The Plot?

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Some might fear that staff from NAViGO have lost the plot: tonight they are holding a Bonfire Party for patients on the Konar Suite – an Acute Mental Health Unit.  Little wonder they continue to win national acclaim for their radical approach to mental health.

The ‘Bonfire Lady’ as I have christened the organiser of this initiative will happily pay up on a wager I had with her yesterday.  I bet her 10 pence that I could get the Manager of the Big Red Warehouse to donate some sparklers and he did – 5 packets!

Maureen is keen to get home as quickly as possible and my discussions with staff are ongoing on this front.  Unfortunately, they are somewhat hidebound by the Mental Capacity Act.  However, I know that staff are not just paying lip service to Maureen’s concerns and where there’s a will I’m sure we will find a way

Dementia: A Day Of Pleasant Surprises

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Yesterday was a good day full of really pleasant surprises.  During my early morning swim, I resumed chatting to a woman I had spoken to the previous week.  From my routine in the water, she had gathered that I  was addressing the consequences of hip replacement and she was doing the same.  As we chatted we realised our paths had crossed on a previous occasion when Maureen had taken her on a hike around the Boating Lake as I exercised at the Leisure Centre.   Maggie was another excellent carer lost to the cause because as she put it: ‘it was costing me money to work for that Agency’.  She had decided to call it a day three years ago as she was fed up of the minimum wage, irregular hours and no time or payment for travelling between calls.

I could hardly believe my eyes when I popped in to see my dear wife shortly before noon.  She was fast asleep lying on a bed in a room that she had refused to enter on the previous day.  She stirred as soon as she saw me and gave me a beautiful smile.  When I saw the clothes she was wearing I was amazed: a pair of new trousers that she had sworn were not hers for a couple of years were being worn.  Then it got even better when she held out a hand with beautifully manicured nails varnished to perfection.

Maureen was eager to tell me so many things that she had been doing since my last visit.  She had clearly been fascinated by ‘a man who could read the stars’.  This man had been to University and his ability to read the solar system had clearly fascinated her.  Then she mentioned that she had been involved in craft activities.  She told me she had made a cushion cover that she had kindly given to a young boy.  In some ways, she regretted her generosity as she would have liked me to have seen her handiwork.

As we sat chatting in Maureen’s room a member of staff arrived and asked me if I would like to stay to lunch.  I would have been proud if I had served the chicken hot pot that arrived – it was gorgeous.  Maureen had fish although she ate it, she told me it wasn’t quite as good as my cooking.  The sweets that arrived were lovely Maureen chose bananas and custard and I had a chocolate sponge with a similar sauce.  Our meal would have done credit to a four-star hotel.

Shortly after lunch staff ran a check on Maureen’s vitals and she passed with flying colours.  I suggested that it might have been a time when Maureen would have consented to the outstanding ECG but unfortunately, the doctor was unavailable to carry out this assessment.

It would be risky to suggest Maureen is settling on Konar but yesterday was full of pleasant surprises.   She remains concerned that her independence is often under threat and resents being told when to take her medication or have a wash and change her clothes.  This is a familiar tale that challenges us all as we try to provide the support that Maureen needs and without challenging her independence.

The good news from Konar this morning is that Maureen slept through the night in her room from 8 ‘o’ clock!  I didn’t do as well as that but after a couple of hours in the afternoon managed 6 further hours in bed.  I’m sure as we both get the rest we need we will be both in a much better position to make sensible choices on our journey!