Recently, we held the first meeting of our new Family Support Group at Harbour Residential. Initiated by Janet and our mental health team, our aim was for both staff and residents’ families to share information and experiences about caring for and supporting people with dementia and mental health, and to help the families who are such a big part in caring for our residents to understand what support is available to them from our team.
We discussed topics including how to identify and diagnose dementia, what the treatment pathway is, and the different stages and types of dementia. Our residents’ families benefitted from the forum, with Nora Davies commenting “I now understand why my sister Molly behaves the way she does and I now know how to respond to her needs.”
Our residents’ families shared fond memories of their loved ones, as well as their personal experiences of managing and caring for their family members. Pat Byles was emotional and spoke of how she supported husband John when she visits. She said ‘I realise how difficult it has been for me and I now acknowledge that I need help – I am not alone” This ‘not alone’ attitude was reflected by everyone in the session. Similarly, families acknowledged and praised our team’s hard work, with Richard Mann remarking “I am happy for my mum to live here and I know she gets the support she needs.’’
Following the session, relatives exchanged contact details and promised to keep in touch with each other, as well as offering our staff their own support, which can be so vital in the care of older people with dementia and mental health issues. Given the success of the first session, we are in the process of coordinating our next session for the start of 2020.
Reflecting on the success of the event, Samuel Okello, Home Manager, commented “Today was a special day for Harbour Residential Care Centre because we are trying something new, our philosophy and ethos is to be person-centred in our care. This awareness training has proved that our relatives provide emotional and personal support to our residents in many ways. The home is committed to achieving better outcomes in care for individuals while involving families in decision making and care planning.”
A huge thank you to Janet and the mental health team for all their hard work – this event could not have happened without you!