Since joining MacIntyre three months ago, with no experience of the care industry, I knew I had a lot to learn. During my first few weeks, I was asked if I would like to attend the next Keep Going…….Don’t Stop meeting. It became clear that the Keep Going…….Don’t Stop group (or KGDS) are an essential part of our Department of Health funded Dementia Project, working to ensure that everything produced by MacIntyre is accessible to everyone we support.
As I wanted to continue learning everything I could about MacIntyre and the people we support, I jumped at the chance. But this wouldn’t be a traditional KGDS meeting, this time they would be meeting The MacIntyre Checkers. Despite collaborating on many easy-read projects together this was the first time they would be officially introduced.
In preparation for their arrival, the KGDS group had made a banner spelling out ‘Welcome Checkers’ to make everyone as comfortable as possible. Upon hearing the sound of squeaking tyres and the whirr of the minibus engine die down, there were murmurs of apprehension and excitement as their guests arrived.
Unsure what to expect, I watched as the groups filed in. The man who happened to sit next to me was Andrew, known in the group as the Doctor Who expert. Armed with the latest issue of the TV guide and his trusty cap, he quietly sat beside me.
As the room filled with conversation, Andrew remained seated, still clutching at his TV Guide. Feeling nervous, I gave him a smile and a quick wave, introducing myself. Noticing that the magazine cover had a picture of the current Doctor Who, I chose to use this to try and set him at ease.
From here, I quickly realised that Andrew’s primary form of communication was Makaton. Before starting at MacIntyre I was ashamed to admit I hadn’t heard of Makaton, but wanting to get to know Andrew, I persisted; using his adoration for Doctor Who as a starting point.
It became clear that Andrew didn’t need to verbalise his love for Doctor Who, his expressions alone were enough. Using the TV Guide, we began to turn each page, pointing at pictures of Daleks and Doctors. As I began to point at each picture, his face began to light up.
“Which Doctor is your favourite?” I found myself asking.
Without hesitation and a huge smile on his face, Andrew pointed to a photograph and announced that “Tom”, the fifth Doctor, Tom Baker, was the best by far.
“Scarf.” he said, using Makaton to convey Tom Baker’s iconic look.
As we continued through the TV guide, Andrew slowly began to grow in confidence, indicating that the Daleks were evil and giggling at my failed attempts to name characters. He even made the sound of a bell and said ‘cat’ whilst signing; sharing that he owned a pet cat. Bringing his arms out, he imitated cuddling his cat, beaming from ear to ear.
When it was time for him to present his project on Doctor Who to the rest of the group, he suddenly looked a little unsure. I smiled at him for reassurance and threw him a ‘thumbs up’. Smiling back, he carried his lucky cap to the front and took a deep breath. Needless to say, his presentation was brilliant.
Whilst it’s safe to say I learned a lot that day about Doctor Who, mostly I learned about the variety of ways people we support can communicate. Andrew didn’t need to convey his love for Doctor Who verbally; he did so perfectly using expressions, sound, and Makaton.
Communications Officer, MacIntyre Central