Well on reflection of this month, it’s been enlightening. I have now had the opportunity to leave my home and venture to MacIntyre's Central Office in Milton Keynes. The team there were very welcoming and even decorated my desk, which was a lovely touch.
I’ve learnt about MacIntyre’s ‘Resources Library’ and the Great Interaction’s ‘Try Before You Buy’ library which has some amazing free items, sensory objects, books – all of which teams can, you guessed it – try before they buy!
I also noticed some lovely pictures in the reception area of people who are supported by MacIntyre, which definitely put a smile on my face.
This month I’ve been working closely with Dementia UK and MacIntyre, exploring different ways we can support people within MacIntyre who have a diagnosis of dementia or a suspected diagnosis. It’s amazing how many people we support fall into a high-risk category for developing dementia (463), which makes education on dementia prevention the top of my list, as well as supporting a timely diagnosis. With this in mind, I think my next blog will focus on prevention tips!
I’m also becoming a dab hand at Zoom and held another webinar this month, which I hope was of interest to staff teams within MacIntyre. The webinar was aimed at our support staff and explored how we can effectively challenge primary healthcare services and make the most of health appointments when supporting people with a learning disability, with or without dementia.
Refreshing to see
One thing I have noticed when speaking to various team managers and staff is how skilled we are when supporting somebody with a diagnosis of dementia and our ability to notice even the smallest subtle changes, which others who visit infrequently (such as a GP) may not notice. These observation skills are crucial to early detection of dementia. Using these skills and evidence from the completed Health Calendar will support a timely diagnosis of dementia for people within MacIntyre.
One thing I’m occasionally asked is 'What are the signs of dementia in people with a learning disability?' , so I thought I’d mention a few. It is important to mention that every person is different and when you’ve met one person with dementia, you really have met one person with dementia.
- Deterioration in daily living skills
- Decreased activity
- Loss of interest in previously enjoyed activities
- Reduced communication (no longer able to use Makaton or starting to use it again many years after not using it)
- New or increased confusion and/or disorientation
- Changes in sleep patterns
- Changed difficulty with depth perception for example, stepping off a curb
- Increased walking without a clear reason
- Changes to sight or hearing
Ref: Karen Watchman, Heather Wilkinson & Philly Hare (2018) Supporting people with Learning Disabilities and Dementia. Pavilion West Sussex
For more tips and helpful information regarding dementia, visit:
Until next month, goodbye and stay safe!