Dementia and Over Day Centre
There can be no doubt that public awareness of dementia has been raised through television, print and social media in recent years. The Alzheimer's Society estimates that 850,000 people are now living with the condition in the UK and of these 42,000 are under the age of 65. By 2021 the total figure could be as high as one million.
With 75% of Over Day Centre clients now suffering with dementia, our challenge is to cater to each person on an individual basis, taking into consideration their medical and behavioural history. (All clients complete an assessment form prior to joining the Day Centre, so that staff are aware of any assistance that they require, and any medication that they must be administered - under supervision - during the course of the day). Our staff have many years of experience in the care sector and have received dementia training. Daily notes are kept by the care staff and clients are re-assessed by them at regular intervals. Family and external carers are also asked to provide updates on their loved one's medical condition.
Our approach to caring for all our clients, however, is far more encompassing and holistic; taking into consideration more than just a person's physical and mental health. Whilst health care is essential to the service we provide, equally important is that clients are socially engaged through the opportunity to create new friendships, and the chance to participate in a variety of activities.
Staff have become aware that, whilst working alongside our dementia clients, two favoured activities have come to the fore. These are music/singing and craft/art activities.
Music is an integral part of every day at Over Day Centre. Aside from background music chosen by clients, we are visited regularly by a qualified Music Therapist, book musicians to play for the clients, and encourage young people from the wider community to entertain by singing or playing instruments. We are also visited by dance groups and are entertained with nursery rhymes sung by children from a local Preschool. Our in-house projector allows for group 'karaoke' sessions with the words of old-time favourites being displayed on a screen. Hymns are also sung during short services given by a visiting local Baptist pastor and a Church of England vicar.
Music has become a way of communicating with clients who might not otherwise want to, or be able to (due to the debilitating effect that dementia has on speech), engage with the larger group. Music animates them. Age UK are just one charity that are now promoting the importance of music to dementia sufferers:
Over Day Centre also promotes craft activities, and it is interesting to note that a high proportion of the participants have dementia. We are visited regularly by Creative Mojo who specialise in art activities designed for people with physical disabilities and dementia. This means that their sessions are inclusive. We are also working to develop a long-term relationship with young people from a local Secondary School to help with craft activities aimed at our clients' interests and abilities. This year the Day Centre were active in supporting Art in Care Day:
'Dementia' is actually an umbrella term for over 200 different types of condition that affect the functioning of the brain. The most well known of these - and the most common - is Alzheimer's, which is a disease that damages the nerve cells in the brain preventing them from being able to communicate with one another and so transmit messages. Eventually the brain cells die. The other three most common types of dementia are Vascular Dementia, Frontotemporal Dementia, and Dementia with Lewy Bodies. More information about these conditions can be found on the following websites:
Dementia UK has produced a free leaflet that gives information about the condition, what are the symptoms, and how to go about being diagnosed. It can be downloaded as a PDF here.