My father has a diagnosis of dementia and following a hip fracture in December 2009 went in to care in April 2010.
Dad found it difficult to engage with the other residents – he had never been one for 'small talk' and he was not interested in any of the social events organised by the care home. He has outlived the majority of his contemporaries so apart from my two brothers, myself, his brother-in-law and a very few friends/neighbours (who could only visit infrequently) he had little in the way of prolonged quality interactions.
I was aware that compared to many of the residents Dad was fortunate but I still felt he could easily become quite isolated and that he needed more stimulation and in particular someone to talk 'at' rather than 'to'. I only wish I had contacted the Forget-me-not project sooner!
Dad seemed to hit it off with his volunteer from the word go and always spoke positively and enthusiastically about the visits, referring to him as 'that fellow who likes the sound of his own voice.' This made me laugh out loud as I know that his volunteer would not be able to get a word in edgeways – Dad just needed a prompt and he could talk for hours!
It is a credit to the training programme and the careful matching of volunteer and service user that the appropriate prompting was always given!
I met Dad’s volunteer before his first visit and gave him some background information about Dad’s life and his interests and I know the volunteer went out of his way to engage with Dad and even bring him information about ships and shipbuilding which is Dad’s main interest.
The volunteer obviously provided a person-centred service, showing genuine interest and valuing Dad’s life and interests - an entitlement which should apply to all those with dementia.
My brothers and myself all work full-time and therefore cannot visit Dad as often as we would like so to know that the Forget-me-not project was available gave us some peace of mind, especially as it is offered so professionally and compassionately.