My day starts with a morning working on ‘duty’. This involves responding to referrals received from partner agencies as well as taking calls directly from carers and people living with dementia. By mid-morning I’ve answered a number of email enquiries and have spoken to three carers.
The first conversation is with a wife of someone who had had a recent diagnosis. He is in his late 50s and the call starts with her requesting information about his continuing to work and drive. As she tells me more about the changes she has noticed and how they are coping with the diagnosis, she discloses more about her fears for their future and we spend some time focussing on how she is feeling. She thinks that it would be helpful to talk this over with someone face to face, but doesn’t want her husband to know she’s been in contact with us so I offer her an appointment to come into the office and, in the meantime, signpost her to some relevant factsheets on the Alzheimer’s Society website.
The next call isn’t strictly a duty call, but is from someone who had gone to our Singing for the Brain group for the first time with their husband and wants to let us know how much they had enjoyed it. I am really pleased as I’d met the couple when I visited them at their home some months ago. At that time, the husband was finding it difficult to come to terms with his diagnosis and was reluctant to engage with any support, however, given time, he’d decided to give the group a go. Not only did they join in with the singing (I was told that they even got up for a dance) but both of them found that meeting people ‘in the same boat’ as them was comforting.
The final call is from a carer who tells me that they have a family wedding coming up in a few weeks and that they would like find more out about respite care. Their mother lives with them and they support her during the day and occasionally during the night. After asking a few key questions to help me to understand the care and funding situation, we discuss making a referral to Social Services. The carer is happy to take that forward – so I make sure they have the number. We then talk a little about what their mother would find important in a care home and bringing in familiar things for any possible stay. Also, given that the carer mentions possible future breaks, we touch on whether Direct Payments could offer more flexible options for the future.
By lunchtime everything is written up and I am getting ready to go to a local venue to deliver an information Session to a community group. The talks help the attendees to learn more about dementia, and be aware of what support services are available. With Dementia now receiving more press coverage than ever before, everyone seems to know someone who has been impacted by the disease.
As for the rest of the week – I’m attending a meeting of a local social care where I will provide an update on the current support for people living with dementia as well as answer any questions they may have. On other days I’ll be making home visits or giving telephone and email support to the people I have on my caseload.
We operate the Dementia Navigator service in a flexible way that supports people living with dementia and their carers as and when they need it. This means that we can give the right level of support at the time it is needed.