The subtle changes

As a staff team we have supported Janice for many years. She communicates by making sounds. Janice likes watching TV and listening to music. She enjoys going out and watching other people. Janice has Down’s syndrome which means she may have an early onset of dementia at some point in her life.

Over the last year we started observing small changes in Janice. She sometimes will become confused and start walking around the house, as if forgetting where she was going. She started to refuse her meals, especially if it’s a hot dinner. She doesn’t always want to go out, or wants to come back home as soon as she gets somewhere she previously used to enjoy. She gets upset easily and may cry for no apparent reason.

Some of the staff attended the DSIG (Dementia Special Interest Group) last year for the first time, and we have been attending ever since. It was as a result of this that we began to consider that Janice may have the early onset of dementia. It is difficult to actually diagnose it, because of her communication difficulties, but there are some things we can do to make Janice’s life better.

When she becomes upset, we respond by being more patient. If she doesn’t want her dinner we are offering an alternative, or mashing the dinner up so she finds it easier to chew. We are being creative and experimenting with food colours and textures to find what Janice likes whilst trying to ensure she doesn’t feel under any pressure. If she seems to struggle doing things for herself, like getting dressed – we step in and help her a bit more, whilst still encouraging her independence on good days.

As a team, we keep a close eye on the changes in Janice’s mood and health and we have involved the GP and consultant to see what we can do to help her further.

But at the end of the day, she is still Janice, and we make Janice’s support personal to her, regardless of whether she will have a diagnoses of dementia or not.


The staff team at Coriander Road


  • Emma Killick says:

    Thank you for sharing this story – the facilitation skills are a key part of MacIntyre’s DNA we all know that. However, reading your blog shines a spotlight for me on why “Observation” and “Reflection” make that top 10.
    It is so important to notice the subtle changes and to think about what may be happening and why in order to be sure that we provide the best, person centred support that we can.
    The Dementia Special Interest Group was created to raise awareness, provide peer support and share best practice – I’m glad it has “done what it says on the tin”.
    Looking forward to seeing people at our meeting on Wednesday this week.

    • Lou Mitchelmore says:

      It’s great to hear how well our older residents are being looked after. I knew Janice many years ago when she was at the school where I worked. Even though I still live in Leicester I don’t often see former pupils and I wonder about them. How nice to know that someone is making so much effort to respond appropriately and kindly. Thankyou

  • Nicola Payne says:

    It is great to see that the staff are being aware and taking notice in the changes that Janice is having in her life. Janice is remaining independent as she can be. Knowing the staff are there to support her in things she may start to struggle with must be a real comfort to her.

  • Brigid MacDermid says:

    I bumped into Janice and her carer at a pub where I was attending a comedy event upstairs was lovely to see her so obviously enjoying the people watching .the interaction between her and …(/?sorry I’ve forgotten your name )reflected the how well the pair knew each other and the thought that goes into ensuring Janice’s comfort .

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