Jakki Whitehead, an experienced care professional, is training to become one of dementia care’s ‘beacons of excellence’ – an Admiral Nurse. This blog follows her journey from day one.
February 2017 -Effects of change
Just recently I have had occasion to be aware of the effects of change within my own life: change of hours, change of job role and what impact this has had on my home life.
It hasn’t been comfortable, and few big changes are. Yet I frequently see residents with dementia who have left their family and home to be admitted into hospital, then moved to a residential home and then to us at Riversway Nursing Home, without ever returning to their own home. All within a relatively short time.
Those residents have had to cope with three changes of abode in addition to other changes, such as;
- Absence of family and recognised supports;
- Changes in physical health or mental health such as confusional states resulting from infections;
- Changes in medication and a complete change of their known routine.
All of this at a time when the fact that they have dementia makes it more difficult to understand and adjust to what is happening to them.
My manager Jan and I, often tell relatives that it can take three months for us to start to know the resident, their likes and dislikes and for them to get to know us and which carers they like to work with.
Within that time we try to find out about the resident from themselves and from their family. About their past life history, relationships that are important to them and coping techniques that the resident and their relatives have used.
These often highlight recent changes in the routine of the resident, for example a changed night and day sleep pattern is quite common. One of our residents had a very steady 72 hour pattern of sleeping and then 72 hours of waking, she could even enjoy her meals whilst in that sleepy state!
What is important, is to understand that any change, such as those above or maybe a well-loved carer leaving the home, can have massive effects on our residents, sometimes manifesting in changes of behaviour.
It is up to us, as carers, to work out what that behaviour is trying to tell us; this takes time and understanding of the resident to work out how to help them to feel safe, cared for and familiar with their new environment and circumstances and also to support the family through these times.
This doesn’t mean that all change is bad, managed change can be useful and life enhancing. Small changes can mean the world.
Our new activity coordinator Marilisa, was trying different activities with a resident who has been paralysed from the neck down for 20 years. She brought in a tube of bubbles and asked the resident to blow. A stream of bubbles flew across the room followed by tremendous laughter from the resident and Marilisa.
As we reflected later upon the activity we realised what a sense of ability that she must have had. That small change in Marilisa’s thinking had allowed the resident’s actions to have an effect on something, maybe for one of the very few times in 20 years.
Blog by Jakki Whitehead
Admiral Nurse, Riversway Nursing Home.
Click HERE to read my 1st blog (May 2016) - My Journey to become an Admiral Nurse
Click HERE to read my 2nd blog (June 2016)- My Admiral Nursing Journey
Click HERE to read my 3rd blog (July 2016) - My Admiral Nursing Journey
Click HERE to read my 4th blog (August 2016) - My Admiral Nursing Journey
Click HERE to read my 5th blog (November 2016) - My Admiral Nursing Journey