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FEATURE All Things Considered


Fatou Sanneh, a Care Manager at care and support provider Social Care Alba, shares key advice for supporting people with dementia.


It is important to remember we are supporting a person, not a diagnosis. Everyone is unique and providing support in areas where dementia may have impacted a person’s ability can transform their life and those around them. With a little knowledge and understanding, you can turn a challenging and


stressful situation into something that is rewarding and satisfying.


Dementia can affect all aspects of a person's life, as well as those around them, including family, friends and carers but, with the right help and support, many people can and do manage to cope well with dementia for a number of years.


Below are some suggestions that can be used to improve a person’s surroundings and experiences.


SMART CONTROLS


Using smart thermostats, automated lighting and alerts of movement can provide a more comfortable environment for those living at home.


Creating a safe environment is of primary importance and some heating systems, particularly those that can be linked to remote devices such as The Hive, can be really useful as they can be turned on and off at the touch of a button and, in many instances, you don’t even need to be at the property to operate them.


LIGHTING


As we grow older, more light is needed to clearly see our environment. Lighting for those with dementia should be approximately 200% brighter than that of those living without the condition. For dark areas or for areas such as a toilet at night, consider an always-on light source. This is a simple measure that can be implemented to prevent falls and fractures, as well as maintaining health and wellbeing.


It is important that lights reach their full luminescence quickly, so daylight white led bulbs are perfect. Good lighting and an enhanced visual environment can also oſten result in a renewed interest and optimism, boosting mood and reducing level of anxiety.


COLOURS


Dementia can affect the ability for people to distinguish between colours. For example, a white light switch sitting against a white wall may cause confusion and be difficult to operate without assistance. The simple addition of a contrasting yellow surround draws attention to those features


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previously unseen. You can use the same technique to highlight areas such as plates, walls, floors and toilets seats.


WEARABLE TECHNOLOGY


Using smart watches and mobile phones can now be used to record activity. They can unobtrusively highlight when a person rests or if they have been awake all night. Promoting independence comes with risk, however using the geo tagging facilities on phones or watches can provide a measure of reassurance. It allows the person to leave home to participate in activities independently, whilst alerting a nominated person if they leave a pre-agreed area.


FLOORCOVERINGS


Dementia can alter depth perception and, if the environment where you live is not adapted to accommodate this, it could lead to unnecessary injuries. Promoting movement within the home starts by ensuring floorcoverings are of a similar colour and free of patterns. They should contrast well with the walls and furniture that is placed upon them. Alternatively, persuading someone not to access a dangerous area can be done with something as simple as changing the floor colour. This allows you to mark out areas of potential danger, supporting them to take more care in high-risk areas such as steep stairs cases.


Meals and Snacks – Encouraging someone to sit down for a meal can be difficult, but there are some simple tips to try. Music when eating assists in concentration- try playing classical music, you may be surprised.


Place a non-slip mat on the table and use a coloured plate with a lip and appropriate cutlery to help eat independently. Snacks or finger food such as fruit and sandwiches are a good alternative.


Having what you need in front of you rather than having to search to find it is the key to maintaining a healthy diet. Open cupboard doors or lay out what a person may need for them. Alternatively, glass doors or pictures on the door will serve as reminders of what’s inside.


Drinking enough fluid is important to maintaining health so always make sure there are a variety of drinks at hand.


Social Care Alba was established to provide support to people living in their own home. The care and support is based upon core values underpinned by the Health & Social Care Standards. Our vision is one of person-centred support, which incorporates values of dignity and respect, privacy and inclusion, choice and realising potential – as well as safety, equality and diversity. We are continuously looking to the future, planning ahead and anticipating future demands, thus allowing us to recruit, train and plan services in advance with the support and inclusion of staff.


www.social-care.org www.tomorrowscare.co.uk


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