I then spent the next ten or fifteen minutes smiling as I listened to the conversation between Susan and Jackie, which ranged from discussion of the ingredients and how to prepare them, to what had been happening that day, to Susan’s planned weekend away this Friday. Susan has a great sense of humour, peppered with a little “well-seasoned” language at times, and the way that Jackie responded was wonderful to hear. It sounded like two old friends cooking up a feast at home, and I was never quite sure who was leading the process. Jackie stepped in when needed and stepped back when not. Food was clearly important to Susan; when I asked her whose idea the lentil soup was she proudly told me that it was her suggestion and she certainly seemed to know what she was doing with that recipe.
Shortly afterwards Sean came in and busied himself making tea. Sean has joined MacIntyre in the time that I have been away from Crosby Close, as opposed to Jackie who was here when I started. Again the interactions were informal, friendly, warm and naturalistic – my feeling was that if someone was shown a film of the situation they would probably think that it was a family gathering or something similar. There was joking and banter, but with a purpose, and struck me as an entirely natural, ordinary and everyday situation that we could observe in pretty much any house anywhere in the country, just what good support work is all about.
This served as an interesting opportunity for reflection afterwards – a chance to contrast a long standing MacIntyre member of staff with someone who is relatively a more recent colleague; someone who saw the introduction of Great Interactions and someone who came into MacIntyre and experienced our approach at the point they joined us.
We’ve seen a lot of changes in the last nine years – that was after all before Great Interactions got going – but it was great to see situations in which the basics of our support work continue to be as positive as they were back then. It’s a reminder that Great Interactions wasn’t just plucked out of thin air as a good idea; it was built upon the excellent practice already demonstrated by our colleagues and used to coach new and existing staff alike. It’s reassuring for me to come full circle and see the changes that Great Interactions (Capital “G” and “I”) has brought, as well as some of the original great interactions (small “g” and “i”) that inspired it.
Please find below a link to the new film from the Dementia Special Interest Group (DSIG):
The next DSIG meeting is on 7th October in Milton Keynes – if you are interested in attending please contact sarah.nicholson@macintyrecharity to book on. We would love to see you there.