My brother and I work at a local residential home where many of the residents have dementia. We noticed that many of the residents had similar issues and often asked similar questions. We decided to research simple ways in which we might be able to make their lives easier, and less stressful. Our first step was similar to most others our age: ask Google.
The Dementia Services Development Centre (DSDC) website popped up and before long we had visited the Iris Murdoch building in Stirling and were fortunate enough to speak to Pauline Cameron, one of their Learning & Development Officers. She inspired us with lots of ideas of how to make life in the home more comfortable for the residents and also suggested that we should speak to nursing staff both at Ninewells Hospital in Dundee and the ARI in Aberdeen to find out how we could make a hospital visit as stress free as possible.
Bursting with ideas and youthful enthusiasm, we wrote a document listing suggestions from our research which we hoped could be both simple and practical changes (many at minimal or no cost) to make the residents’ life easier and more pleasant and our lives as Health Care Assistants more rewarding. We anxiously presented it to both the Owner and Manager of the home in a meeting. They were delighted with our initiative and have now implemented some of our suggestions.
The biggest difference was the simple labelling of the toilet door. Since making this change, many of the residents have required less assistance to find the toilet and are able to retain more of their independence.
What is also worth noting was the general change in the atmosphere in the care home. It has made all the staff aware that anyone could make a suggestion and that it would be listened by management and the owner. It also shows that even simple changes, that cost little or no money, could, and do, make noticeable differences in the lives of the residents and in doing so, help to improve the job satisfaction of the staff.
Inga and James
The DSDC offers a range of training courses that can inspire and inform staff to make changes to support people to live well with dementia. View upcoming courses here.