With an old building like The Yachtsman Care Home we have ensured that the design of the building supports people living with dementia. So for example, you'll find coloured signs and reminiscence boxes outside the doors to stimulate the memory of 'this is my room.' You'll find that history of the person and their community around our home. You'll find reminiscence books and quiet areas, you'll find pictures on the walls that stimulate memory of life years ago.
But however good the design, maximizing the quality of life for a person living with dementia is about how we relate to them as people. We need to acknowledge that with the dementia comes a permanent change – perhaps in mood or in memory, perhaps in personality. For us as friends and family that in itself can be very difficult to deal with. We have to get to grips with the fact that the person we love has changed in ways we would not have chosen for them and doing so can involve a sense of loss or even bereavement for us. But if we have to mourn what is lost, we can also celebrate the person who is with us now. Dementia does not have to be the end. If properly managed it can represent new beginnings, particularly when we realise how much feelings still matter to the person we love
Moving forward with Dementia then becomes a matter of creating a sense of belonging; a sense of purpose – and of continuing to love the person who needs to be loved as much as they ever did. To do this we centre our attention on the person and emphasise that they themselves are not a diagnosis and not a disease. With patience and understanding we look beyond the illness to draw out what is important to your relative; what it is that makes them feel safe and secure; who is important to them. Then we can ensure that daily routines focus on what matters most. Seeing pictures of people that matter most; talking about what is most important; stepping into the reality of the person rather than expecting them to step into our reality. All this, ultimately, is what the buzz words 'person centred care' is all about.