In a care system which is focused on saving money, best value and limited resources, focussing on supporting one person can be difficult. Funds follow numbers and people living with dementia and carers often say to me how this doesn’t always work.
Of course, at times, a gathering works really well. Collectively enjoying a performance or meal is a sociable necessity from time to time and it is always good to have a circle of friends who understand a certain shared aspect of life. And what fun would a solo singing group be?
Interpreting people’s words and situations shows a need to be very personal at times, too.
‘I go where they take me, you know, in the bus.’
‘This is the only trip this month, I had to come even though my tummy is upset.’
‘I loved being outside in the sun. I haven’t been out since.’
‘It’s decided, where we go.’
‘I feel trapped, like I’m in prison.’
‘I am supposed to be the man.’
From these comments, it’s clear that one to one approaches are a very human requirement.
This week, I supported a man living with dementia to take his wife to a family party. He was the life and soul, singing, sharing stories and interacting, as he might have always done. The details were taken care of – transport, reminders, payment. This left him free to be the family support he wanted to be. This left his wife (and carer) free to make party arrangements. Neighbours and the wider community participated, dropping in. They were all very welcome to the ceilidh.
I also supported a carer to have more time at the shops (with a lift) and to have a look at a car, to give her more independence. And there was a coffee catch-up with a young girl who had been volunteering regularly with people living with dementia and was struggling to let go now that she has a job.
And when I think of the power of one – support to one person meant support to his wife, the wider family, the immediate community who shared the occasion, the community transport service supported to keep going, the local shops supported by the purchase of supplies and fuel, it becomes clear that we are all connected. The young woman who has given countless volunteer hours to the community, now moving confidently into a care post where her acquired skills and experience will be useful.
The power of one person being supported creates positive ripples throughout the community.
And the recorded stories can be shared very widely across the community to support other people.
One of the joys of this project is the flexibility to target support where it’s most needed and sometimes that support is greatest to the power of one.