Dementia Action Week

Right At Home
An award-winning franchise model from a company that cares; Right at Home delivers exceptional care that helps people to live independently, and with dignity, in their own homes.

Right at Home

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Dementia is a terrifying illness, with progressively worsening symptoms. Tim Haigh and Alastair Shanks, franchisees with homecare provider Right at Home UK, discovered it is possible for families to enjoy precious moments together, with the right training and support.

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There’s nothing more terrifying than suddenly realising a forgetful memory is indicative of a more ominous problem.

Dementia, a progressive illness with no known cure, is as hard on the families as it is on the person living with it. Tim Haigh and Alastair Shanks, from homecare provider Right at Home, noticed that the right support and training gave families more precious moments together, when they learned to manage quality of life. This theory which has been researched and scientifically proven, now underpins Right at Home’s pioneering new Cognitive Support Programme. “The way to handle this illness is less about putting someone into a home,” explains Alastair, “It’s about making life changes to alleviate the pressures and manage its progression as well as possible.”

With approximately 850,000 people in the UK currently living with some form of dementia, public understanding of the disease is crucial, so during Dementia Action week (beginning 21st May) the emphasis for many Right at Home franchisees is on helping people understand how they can better manage the symptoms of dementia. Working in their local communities, Right at Home care teams have created over 1,000 Dementia Friends, with more sessions planned throughout the Week (details are published on social media and local websites).

Dementia brings with it a set of symptoms which progressively worsen, leading to significant impact on daily life. These include memory loss, changes in mood and behaviour and declining communication. Exact symptoms vary, depending on the form of dementia someone has, and which part of the brain has been damaged. Therefore, developing a highly personalised care plan is a key element of Right at Home’s Cognitive Support Programme.

“We first looked at the research surrounding the impact of dementia, with the help of dementia specialist and author, Mary Jordan,” explains Tim Haigh, owner of Right at Home Sutton & Epsom. “Often when someone is diagnosed with dementia, they are caught in a spiral of negativity. The world becomes a scarier place. Family and friends don’t know what to do, so they might stay away, leaving them feeling isolated and depressed, or becoming extremely upset and frightened by the changes they are seeing, which in turn causes additional distress to the person with dementia.

“But in developing high quality homecare services, we have seen that with the right support, it is possible for someone living with dementia to live well. We had measurable results when we improved diet, exercise, companionship, and eased living conditions, resulting in making daily life less stressful for some of our dementia patients and their families. In some cases, it noticeably stabilised the progression of the dementia symptoms, and we saw people really reconnecting with their loved ones, which was wonderful to watch.”

After a successful pilot in the UK, the Cognitive Support Programme was developed further by Right at Home in the USA, and the training is now available to families on both sides of the Atlantic.
The hardest thing for most families to observe with dementia is the decline in their loved one’s memory and personality, as they become increasingly less ‘present’.

“If we can find a way, through targeted lifestyle changes, to manage the symptoms of dementia and keep someone we love with us for longer, this is the way forward for the homecare we offer to our clients,” says Right at Home’s Managing Director, Ken Deary.

“We are rolling out a ground-breaking training programme to dementia-specialist teams within the Right at Home network, said Ken. “Using tools developed with renowned UK dementia expert Jackie Pool, they will be able to assess and identify the level of dementia someone has.

“Together with the family they can then identify what lifestyle changes are necessary, tailoring a programme that is specific to each dementia client. Our aim is to enable people living with dementia to benefit from the best possible support whilst remaining in the familiarity of their home surroundings, where we all feel most comfortable.”

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