Dementiaville shines light on different worlds

The first episode of a three part Channel 4 documentary Dementiaville aired last night, highlighting quality care for people living with the condition and ways to relieve the sense of anxiety that can accompany it.

Last night’s programme touched on how people living with dementia increasingly retreat into their own experiences – often returning to events in their past as if it were present reality. 

The episode explained that communicating with people through their past has been commonly misunderstood, even considered a controversial method.  Using a person’s past as a communication channel has in fact created a more peaceful, stimulating, calming and positive experience. It is a theory that is favoured by the Butterfly Household Approach®.

Back in 2012, we launched our pioneering City and Guilds dementia care training qualification, designed by Home Instead Senior Care in conjunction with national and international dementia and Alzheimer's care experts. The training was developed based on the real examples of our home care success stories and uses a similar ‘living in their world rather than coaxing them to live in ours’ theory.

Our training sessions our underpinned by the ethos that a person’s past should be respected, an approach which we also believe helps make clients less agitated and creates happier situations for them and for their families too.

Today, we have 2,400 CAREGivers who have undertaken the training and are now qualified in the knowledge of how to provide the highest level of care and support for people living with dementia. It means they are able to continue to live in the comfort and surroundings of their own home with the condition rather than face having to leave it – a situation that can cause further distress in an already difficult period of diagnosis.

Our training goes hand-in-hand with special personal qualities too, our CAREGivers have empathy and understand the patience and perseverance often needed to make that all important emotional connection with their clients. Our CAREGivers regularly go the extra mile to bring quality of life and happiness to our clients who are living with dementia.

Our CAREGiver Emma Needham did just that when she went the extra mile for one of her clients. The lady had worked in a clothing factory for much of her life folding fabrics and her hands were often restless. Emma created what she dubbed a ‘dementia apron’. It was stitched with different materials, fabrics and textures, which the lady liked to spend time touching. “The dementia apron was a simple idea really but it brought my client a lot of pleasure and peacefulness. I could see that it reminded her of her time spent in the clothing factory.”

Our CAREGiver Helen McEntire recently wrote about the moving times and the challenges of caring for people living with dementia, beautifully summarised here:

“This afternoon I took a lady out for a drive. She can’t remember my name but the way her face lights up when she sees me is the best thing ever. We drove to a local beauty spot with stunning views and had tea and biscuits in the car while listening to classical music on the radio and chatting. For some reason she started talking in a West Country accent, so I joined in. We were hooting with laughter at our joint daftness and got some very strange looks from more sedate people taking in the views. On the way back, she reached for my hand and said I love my time with you. You are so jolly and you make me come alive. You can make a person with dementia happy when you know how… join them in their world for a while.”

Dementiaville has definitely demonstrated what we believe in at Home Instead, that putting the focus back on the person’s life is the key to quality care, and the way to ensure quality of life in the face of the condition.

A group of Home Instead CAREGivers talking
Family welcoming a Home Instead care manager into their home