This Dementia Awareness Week we have been reflecting on the services we provide to people with Dementia, along with their families, and what the future may hold.
Here at SCA Care we’ve been caring for older people in their own homes for over 25 years as well as developing a range of other community-based services.
We have seen many changes during this time including the arrival of the internet and email, and changes in the way people live their lives. Our social enterprise now has a website and our carers have mobile phones.
We’ve noticed other changes too, our communities now have more older people than ever, and their families are working longer hours.
In particular, we’ve also seen for ourselves the increase of the number of people living with dementia in their own home.
Dementia is not restricted to elderly people and it’s not a natural part of aging. We all have an image in our head of what dementia looks like, usually from what we see in the media: an elderly person looking confused, wearing the wrong clothes or perhaps getting agitated when someone is talking to them, or not recognising a relative or loved one.
Dementia, however, can take many forms and many people will have different experiences and different symptoms.
What is Dementia?
The reality is that Dementia is a disease of the brain.
There are many different changes that can happen to the brain to cause dementia and this has led to several different types of dementia being identified, Alzheimer’s and Vascular Dementia are two examples. The different types of dementia can start in different ways and progress at different rates with different symptoms.
There are many varied symptoms that people can have when they have dementia, the most common is memory problems.
Other symptoms of dementia can include:
- difficulty planning things
- difficulty thinking through ideas
- struggling to keep up with a conversation
- changes in mood or behaviour
- difficulty controlling emotions
- struggling with familiar tasks such as using a mobile phone
- problems remembering the right word to use in a conversation
- problems judging distance (even though eyesight is good).
It would be rare for someone to have all of these symptoms but they are all signs of dementia and if you know someone with some of these then we would suggest they talk to their GP.
How can we at SCA help?
We work hard with individuals and their families to make it possible for people with dementia to stay living in their own home with their loved ones, for as long as possible. We work hard to help make living at home in the way that people want a reality for as many people as we can. We also provide support to carers.
Several of our staff are trained Dementia Champions, they work hard to make sure we meet the needs of people living with dementia. We’re expanding our dementia training and education to include all our staff, as we feel it is important that everyone understands dementia and the impact it can have on individuals and their families.
We help at home with our care at home service:
Our care at home services provides support to those people still living at home with dementia. We see people on a daily basis and have the knowledge and experience to help them live the life that they want to at home.
We can help with familiar tasks that have become more difficult to do with the onset of dementia, such as preparing a meal, or doing the laundry. As the dementia progresses we can also help with personal care so that this doesn’t always fall to a loved one, who may have health problems of their own.
We take pride in being a caring employer, as a result of which, we don’t have the changes to our care staff that other care companies may have. Our care staff mainly work in the communities they live in. Our carers have the experience and training to let people know if they see a change in the person they are caring for, for example if their dementia symptoms worsen.
We have excellent links with other community and NHS organisations to help get extra support at home and avoid admissions to hospitals.
You can find out more about our care at home services here.
Our day centres:
We have five day centres that we run across Southampton and the New Forest.
Our day centres provide fun, friendship, support and respite for people suffering from dementia, along with other elderly and frail people in safe and accessible venues.
We provide a door-to-door transport service, with our own drivers. Our drivers are known for providing a caring service, they will check someone gets into their home, and there is milk in the fridge for a cup of tea! They all have their regular routes so can spot if there is a problem, and are quick to call assistance if no one answers the door.
Teams of trained, experienced, professional care staff run all our day centres. They are run on a not for profit basis and are often supported by a team of volunteers. Our volunteers come from all walks of life and some are the partners or family members of people who have previously attended one of our day centres.
Each day centre caters for people with Dementia, ensuring that their needs are met in a caring and person centred way. We understand Dementia and can tailor the support we give and pride ourselves on treating people with dignity and respect.
We offer social interaction, mental stimulation, physical activities, arts and crafts as well as a hot meal at lunchtime. We can provide support with personal care at our day centres as we often have visitors from community groups and other organisations come to speak to our members.
Our memory groups:
Ruth Marriott, CEO of SCA Group sitting in on a memory group in the New Forest, May 2017
We run a number of memory groups. These memory groups work on the principle of cognitive stimulation therapy (CST). This is a technique used to help maintain memory function and increase self confidence, specifically designed for people who are experiencing memory loss and dementia.
Attendance at the memory group is weekly and a particular topic is looked at each week. Our team make sure the sessions are fun, engaging and include everyone. People who attend our groups say they are enjoyable and they feel better for attending.
Ruth, our CEO recently took the time to visit our memory group at Fenwick Health and Wellbeing Centre in the New Forest. She participated in a group, and thoroughly enjoyed herself.
‘I am so pleased that our groups are located in the heart of communities. We work hard to support both individuals with dementia and their carers to live independently at home. The Cognitive Stimulation Therapy techniques used as part of the memory group help delay the deterioration of memory function the main symptom of dementia, which is fantastic.
‘Whilst the memory groups are taking place we also provide a safe space for carers to have open and honest discussions with each other about the particular challenges of caring for someone with dementia. We have strong links with local carers groups and invite them to come and talk to carers if they feel it would help. ‘
The Remind Service
We work in partnership with Solent Mind and the NHS in Portsmouth to provide the Portsmouth Remind Service. This is a service for people living with dementia in the city.
We run a weekly activity group for people with dementia and their carers/family. We offer a range of activities all designed for people with dementia and our staff and volunteers take time to talk to carers.
What does the future hold?
The future for people living with Dementia is often portrayed in the media as bleak. There most certainly is the issue of how to fund these services and make sure we have a fully trained workforce to help people live at home with dementia as a matter of urgency.
However, we at SCA are working hard in our communities to deliver the right support at the right time to the right people. We know that all dementia is not the same, so we have a range of activities and support services that can be tailor made to the individual.
We’re also listening hard to people with dementia and those that care for them, to look for new ways of providing cost effective but meaningful, caring support.
A diagnosis of dementia is a difficult diagnosis to receive but with the help and support of a caring, social enterprise like SCA there are many ways in which life can still be fulfilling.