There are more than 750,000 people diagnosed with dementia in the UK meaning potentially 1,000 dementia sufferers in the island.
The majority of dementia sufferers (60 to 70 per cent) have Alzheimer’s disease, so any industry dealing with the care of the elderly needs appropriate knowledge of how to deal with the particular demands of the disease.
Recently-established Home Instead Senior Care, based in Castletown, has begun a new training course for its carers to specifically cope with Alzheimer’s.
The island-based care provider is a franchise of the global Home Instead group, of which there are 1,000 worldwide.
The nine-hour City and Guilds course was written for Home Instead by a number of experts in the UK and is delivered in the training suite in Castletown by Phil Wiseman, an accredited trainer of the course, who runs the company with his wife Emer.
‘This comprehensive training provides the caregiver with strategies and techniques,’ said Mr Wiseman.
‘Each person who has Alzheimer’s, or another form of dementia, is different and the signs and symptoms of dementia can vary greatly. How each person is cared for needs to be focused on their specific needs and needs to be person centred.We are also able to provide free of charge specially designed dementia training for family carers to empower them to face the journey they are on with their loved ones, rather than fear it.’
On the course, caregivers are taught about the various forms of dementia, the symptoms and behavioural issues that face family and carers alike.
‘Each dementia sufferer is different and the way in which the disease affects them varies. Not everyone displays all of the symptoms or behavioural issues, but in time, these will only get worse. Some of the behaviours can be harmless, such as perhaps sorting the cutlery drawer every few minutes, but others can be dangerous, such as wandering outside in bedclothes on a cold night,’ he said.
The caregivers are trained on techniques to manage any behaviours which have the potential to be dangerous to the dementia sufferer, or others, either physically or emotionally. These techniques include: redirection to an activity the dementia sufferer enjoys, perhaps the family photo album or a favourite film giving simple choices which assume that the dementia sufferer will do something, for instance whether to have pink or blue bubbles in the bath.
Caregivers are taught techniques to encourage engagement such as starting an activity, like folding the washing and encouraging the dementia sufferer to join in, asking for help, perhaps putting photos into an album and giving instructions, perhaps baking some favourite cakes.
Caregivers are also introduced to the ‘life journal’, a structured scrapbook which is used to record the stories, hold the pictures and note the dementia sufferer’s favourite activities and food, etc. All of this information can be used to tailor activities which the dementia sufferer enjoys the most.
Jackie Easton was one of the first of the island Home Instead carers to do the course and said: ‘It was really good, really helpful and gives you some coping techniques and different ways of doing things. It helps you understand more of how they think. It does work. It’s easy for them to become confused and important for you to stay calm and that does help.’
• For information, phone 822545.