We were tasked with organsing our own community project as a voluntary experience for this module. Despite the fact- we will be working with children majority of the time- we will also be working closely alongside the community/ elderly/ nurseries and other organizations. I set up my placement in a care home socializing with elderly people who have learning disabilities and dementia. Our brains help us to function everyday through virtually everything we think/do/ say etc. Certain illnesses can affect our brains functioning in a normal form such as dementia. There are different types of dementia that affect specific parts of the brain which can result in: memory loss/ limited communication and not being able to rationalise situations etc. The most common type of dementia is Alzheimers dementia- shockingly- it is possible to have more than one type of dementia. (Alzheimers Research UK) Myself and one of the co-horts completed this experience together at ”Nightingale Care home” situated in Paisley. There are 50 residents spanning two floors: the ground floor is EMI ( Elderly mentally infirm) and first floor is frail elderly.
I spent half a day there on Monday 14th Oct. I helped by assisting activities such as bingo where I was the caller and majority of the residents participated. To support everyone we used cards with larger print and incorporated animals and colours into a few rounds of the game instead of using numbers and letters continuously. Bingo has profound effects on the mind as it keeps it active and can help short term memory loss. It can help instigate past memories and help the brain rationalise various situations. ( The Davis Community,2017.) During this experience, we also got the chance to speak to the residents on a one to one basis. It was encouraging to hear some of their past life experiences and get an insight into their true personalities. From this, I grasped the importance of not speaking to the residents in a patronising tone (infantile manner) as it can offend the patients- they deserve respect and for their dignity to be maintained. Many of the residents are over 80 years of age and have served their time in world wars for our country- some of the stories are horrific.
Although- majority of the residents are suffering from the same illness- it suprised me how differently it affects everyone. There was one lady in-particular who stood out for me. As well as dementia, she is also suffering from dysphagia (an illness affecting speech.) When she communicates verbally, she is consciously aware of what she is saying but it can be very difficult to understand her at times. However, she comprehends everything you say to her. In order to support her needs, I had to speak clearly and remain patient when she was replying without any interruption as this can trigger frustration for her. There is a sense of community in the home as the relatives of the residents also get involved in activities within the home and help out with days out. They also seemed to have a close bond with the staff which is key as then they will know their family members are being provided with the correct love and care.
From volunteering in the care home- i have realised i am definitely in the correct career. Despite the fact, nurses and teachers have very similar roles. I would find it very challenging to do essentially everything for some of the patients. This experience has been a learning curve and opened up my eyes as to how difficult it must be living with this dreadful illness. Especially for loved ones and carers, we also observed how hard it can be to maintain a safe environment hence why they require supervision 24/7 and assistance when needed. Nurses and teachers have very similar duties of care- both professions have to have a natural ability to show empathy and communicate well with others. Research has been implemented to try and create a cure for this fatal illness by 2025. (Alzhmiers Research UK) I will continue to volunteer in care homes supporting the elderly as it is something different and the residents love having visitors.
Alzheimer’s Research UK (N/D) Types of Dementia [online] available: https://www.alzheimersresearchuk.org/about-dementia/types-of-dementia/
The Davis Community (2017) The Suprising Benefits of Bingo [online] available: https://www.thedaviscommunity.org/2017/04/26/surprising-benefits-bingo/