For Day 11 of our series of ‘walk in my shoes’ blogposts, looking at dementia from different perspectives, we have another passionate post. Helen talks about the frustration of knowing you have a resource that can “make a difference” but struggling to get recognition. Not enough priority given to imaginative approaches!
I know the feeling…!
Banging our heads against the wall
After 6 years spent supplying the commercial dementia care industry we have learned a lot. Although there are some wonderful people working in the field, it can be a depressing place and it can sometimes feel like we’re banging our head against a brick wall in trying to improve the quality of life for their clients.
We are a successful social enterprise specializing in improving the quality of life for people with mid to late stage dementia by providing them with well-researched, accessible and beautiful picture books. The way that the books work to improve communication and calm agitation has been proved again and again. The books provide something easy to access and enjoyable for people to do when there is nothing else available. They’re easy for carers to use with people even in the very late stages, and they can be used without help by many people in the mid stages of the illness. They’re affordable and provide something that carers and family of people with dementia are crying out for.
Some large, and usually charitable care home groups recognize the value of the books in improving the quality of life for those that they care for, and they are prepared to invest heavily in this. Public and third sector organisations such as public libraries and Alzheimer Society day centres also understand that they need good resources to help their clients. They recognize the many benefits that this type of resource can offer and provide them accordingly.
But far too many care homes still seem to be purely profit driven and real quality of life issues seem to be way down on their agenda when it comes to using their imagination or spending even modest amounts of money.
As a social enterprise it is our business to be on the side of the person with dementia – to provide them with what they need. It is extremely rewarding to work with organisations that are also on the side of the person with dementia, who are looking to give them what they need, not use them as cash cows. Sometimes it is not the cost that prevents them investing, but a lack of imagination to really understand how people with dementia who may no longer be able to read, can possibly benefit from books. Whatever their reason it is the people with dementia that are losing out again.
Helen Bate B.A.Dip.Arch.B.A.(Hons)M.A.
- Alzheimer Scotland: Dementia Awareness Week conference 2012 (agescotland.wordpress.com)
- In the shoes of Karen… supporting both of my parents with dementia… (whoseshoes.wordpress.com)