Dementia crisis? The home care provider's point of view

This weeks alarming statistics regarding the increasing numbers of people suffering from dementia and the rocketing costs on the already strained NHS, confirms what community based operators such as SweetTree Home Care Services who provide care and support to older people living in their own homes have been saying it for years. 

Nicki Bones (RMN) of SweetTree Home Care Services has worked in the care sector for 23 years as a registered mental health nurse specialising in caring for those with dementia and other mental health needs. 

“Many people have great dreams of what their retirement will be, and to be hit by this awful illness that can make retirement a very unhappy experience.  Although unfortunately it is generally not possible to make someone with dementia better, by ensuring the provision of high quality care and support combined with meaningful stimulation and activities can help to ensure that people with dementia continue to enjoy life.”

Nicki uses the skills and techniques she has learnt through over 20 years of caring for people with dementia to ensure that SweetTree’s clients are always well looked after.  Nicki stresses “to be successful, we must always focus on the individual and adapt our services to fit their needs.”

Nicki reflects on a client, Diane, who was very withdrawn when she first met her and very reluctant to communicate.  Upon finding out that she was once a designer, Nicki brought in boxes of feathers, fabrics and other material which helped the client associate with her past.  Nicki remembers the joy on Diane’s face and the happiness reminiscing brought her. 

“While we could not cure her dementia, we could make sure that she continued to engage in an activity that she loved.  Once you understand a client and what it is that makes their world a better place, you can begin to make life fun and meaningful again.”

“It could be something terribly small like putting a certain handkerchief in their pajama pocket at night.  It may be small to you and I but if it is important to the person with dementia it is paramount we get it right. Once you understand the routine and what it is that makes someone happy then you can help people to relax and enjoy life.” 

Sadly, most problems experienced when caring for someone with dementia are self created.  “Its not that people act with bad intent, it’s just a matter of understanding the disease and making sure that the care provided reflects the needs of the individual concerned.”

Barry Sweetbaum, SweetTree’s managing director commented that “the demographic boom in those over 85 combined with advances in medicine which help people to live longer have made this problem evident for some time.  What has changed is how many people with dementia prefer to remain involved in the community and receive support in their own homes.” 

As SweetTree’s training and quality assurance manager, Nicki is passionate about the role of education in ensuring the provision of good quality dementia care.  “All of SweetTree’s carers are taught about dementia and how techniques such as reminiscence therapy can help when caring for someone.   SweetTree carers are also taught how to ensure that clients eat well and exercise, even if in a wheelchair.” 

SweetTree knows that the level of demand for the dementia care it provides will continue to grow as the number of people with dementia living in the community increases. 

The flexibility inherent in SweetTree’s care packages allows clients to choose anything from 2 hour respite to 24 hour live-in or live-out support.  As Nicki says, “it is not just the individual who suffers when dementia takes hold and neither is it only the client who will benefit from good quality care”

If you would like more information on SweetTree’s specialised Dementia Care please go to www.sweettree.co.uk or call 0207 624 9944 to request a brochure.

-ENDS-

If you would like to speak with Nicki Bones or other dementia specialist at SweetTree then please contact Daisy Upton by return of this email (daisy.upton@sweettree.co.uk) or by calling 07920 819 360.

Notes to editors

  • SweetTree’s highly trained staff can provide care and support to elderly and disabled individuals living in their own homes. SweetTree also provides more specialist support to people with dementia, physical disabilities, learning disabilities and brain injuries.
  • SweetTree is based in North London and provides care for people throughout greater London
  • SweetTree Home Care services has been providing high quality home care for five years
  • SweetTree Home Care Services work closely with registered charity Jewish Care

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