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Caring for a person with dementia

Sarah Kendal has been supporting a dementia patient at a Care Plus extra care scheme. The Care Plus care assistant shared some of her experiences in that role.

"No two people are the same, even with dementia. It is all about finding the person behind the dementia and relating to them.

"The key for me has been imagining how I would feel in the same position. It can't be easy to get to the point in life where you need help and the frustrations must be enormous. I accept that there will be bad days and that the resident might speak sharply to me sometimes but I understand where that comes from and let it go."

Sarah developed a range of approaches to help her reach out to this resident.

"It was trial and error, really, finding what worked best with this particular person. It has been important to speak to her normally - she hates to feel patronised. If I make my visits feel like a social call, she will be more likely to accept me. Routine has been vital. If we changed arrangements or moved things around, the resident would become anxious and distressed.

"Having been extremely independent, she wants to feel as though she is making her own choices. Rather than asking her do something I plant a seed, let her think of it as her own idea.

"In time, I learned to read her moods by her facial expressions and knew how to support her. If she was unhappy when I arrived, I'd start talking about her family. Her mood would change; soon we would be making a cup of tea and sharing a laugh.

"You have to enjoy the mini victories, the days you make a breakthrough."