With an ageing population, more people are living with dementia and or caring for someone with dementia. Having a diagnosis of dementia does not make you unable to enjoy experiences and we want to support people to live well with dementia.
Services users are referred to respite by their social worker and are usually planned for a short break to give carers a well-deserved rest. However, we understand carers and service users might feel anxious in advance about accessing the service and so we try and ease the transition by introducing ourselves in advance. One of the service leads will meet with the service user and their carer at home prior to admission in order to get to know our clients and understand their individual needs. They will be able to explain what is on offer and hope to answer any questions families may have about coming in to respite.
During admission we focus on meaningful activity and believe that when people access respite (which is often because their carer is going on holiday) they should get enjoyment and feel like they are having a holiday too. Activities on offer include:
- arts and crafts
- recognition and celebration of world events
- visiting theatre groups and performers
- chair-based exercises
- music and singing
- animal visits
- engagement with (and trips out to see) local schoolchildren
- hairdressing and beauty (including a toenail-cutting service)
We also use respite as a chance to see service users for a medical assessment. We know that health or medication issues can lead to problems such as falls, sleep disturbance or other symptoms that may make people less able to manage at home, and my role (as a GP with an interest in elderly care medicine) is to assess service users and give advice about medications, health conditions and planning for the future. Any assessments will be shared with the service user’s own GP.
The Enhanced Respite Service is closely linked with other community services such as Bolton Carer’s Support, Day Centres and Befriending. We will signpost people to any services that may be of benefit after discharge.
The feedback we’ve had has been fantastic, with families reporting surprise at how engaged and involved their relatives have been when in our care and being pleased to see the photos we often take and share (with permission) to record what the service users have been enjoying. We are also seeing significant increases in wellbeing according to our standardised questionnaires around satisfaction in areas such as health, emotional wellbeing, hobbies and interests and carer support.
We are always open to suggestions for new activities to include in our programme, and Jayne Filio (our Service Coordinator from Age UK) is happy to be contacted by anyone who wishes to volunteer at Wilfred Geere to support our activities and community links – we are keen to get new people on board. All our service users are individuals with different interests and we want to keep our activities as wide-ranging as possible.
The Enhanced Respite Service really is a great example of what can be achieved when teams are willing to work together, in partnership, to help people get the best from their care.