Jewish Care provide care and support to the Jewish Community in London and the South East and provide a number of Special Day Care Centres as a service. The Dennis Centre offers a programme of stimulating activities for people who have memory impairment and/or a diagnosis of a type of dementia.
Members of the team volunteered for a day to spend time with people with dementia, gain empathy for the different ways people suffer with the illness and observe behaviours. Here is a summary of what we learnt:
- Dementia can affect people of all ages in different ways.
The people at the Dennis Centre were aged between 56 and 90 years old. Some had very little short term memory and therefore repeated themselves constantly and treated the centre as a safe place to spend a day. Others were very concious that they had early stages of dementia and treated the centre as a place to spend time with others of a similiar level of dementia and to give their partner (the carer) a break.
- Establishing a routine is essential.
The day is organised with activities and break times. The members know they will arrive and have a cup of tea followed by a morning activity of their choice. Routine allows the members to relax and focus on the moment. Memory often returns when a routine is established.
- Creating a ‘safe’, no-blame environment is comforting.
In daily life dementia sufferers are often told that they have got things wrong, the centre however allows the members to relax and be themselves. There were a variety of activities to choose from such as yoga, haircare, manicures as well as word games and snooker. All were organised to stimulate minds, encourage participation and create relaxation.
- Providing care away from the primary carer is beneficial to the carer and person with dementia.
The members who were conscious that they had dementia were very aware that their partner needed a break from looking after them.
‘My poor wife has to deal with me 24/7 and all I do is talk, talk, talk. I have to keep talking or I forget what I’m going to say. Coming here gives my wife a break from me’
- The members often act differently at the centre/with other people than at home.
Members have been known to act very differently at the centre than at home because they have the ‘right to be themselves’. The care centre manager oftens finds herself listening to stories of the person with dementia being difficult to live with at home whereas she finds them happy and relaxed at the day centre.