I am 3 weeks into the Creative Caring course already. The carer, Shirley, who was to be with my wife was not exactly to my or my wife’s liking, but because there wasn’t a lot of time to arrange someone else we let the appointment stay in place. When I returned home from the first day of the course I could see immediately that things hadn’t gone too well, and that was reinforced by Shirley’s hurried departure almost as soon I got my foot in the door. On the second occasion I could see that it had been a better time for them both, although I think they spent nearly all the time watching DVDs. This week the carer agency rang to say they would be sending a different carer as Shirley was sick. Helen was a hit from the moment she stepped into our home. She was very helpful, told me all the things they had done together, and even did the ironing which I was expecting to do when I got home. I rang carer support and asked we could have Helen each week for the rest of the course.
The first week of the Creative Caring course was an introduction to what we would be exploring over the following 6 weeks. We were asked to list what were our goals in attending the course. There were five questions :
- What do I want to learn by participating in the course?
- What information do I need to assist me to care for the person with dementia?
- What do I currently find difficult in my caring role which I hope to change by attending the course?
- What strengths do I have as carer?
- What are the most important things I want to achieve from attending the course?
In the second week we looked at a problem solving approach as a guide to understanding and responding to behaviors of concern in people with dementia. We were encouraged to write up a strategies diary which is designed to help us practice the problem solving approach and to help us identify and respond to a challenging behavior. We spent quite a while discussing the types of behaviour which we are finding challenging, and how we could apply the problem solving approach to finding a solution.
This week we spent the time on reminiscence and the ways and means of using this as a means of affirming the persons sense of identity and self worth, creating a feeling of competence and security, improving communications and strengthening bonds between us and improving well being and quality of life. As part of that we were encouraged to start a book about our partners life story. The book is designed to capture the experience and memories of the person living with dementia. This book can then be used by family members, friends and care workers as an aid to understanding and communicating with the person for whom they are caring. We were given a sample blank book which suggested what can be included in it. It covers all aspects of a persons life from birth and home family life through school days, teenage years, working life, wedding days, married life, extended family members, holidays, family vehicles, places where we have lived, friends we have known and still know. All in all a very busy day, and even a busier time to come creating all these memory pages.