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Improving quality of life – a relative’s story

mary-and-aunt-1I saw my Aunt’s frown disappear!

Around five years after my aunt was diagnosed with dementia, I gave the social worker the go-ahead to look for a care home, he told me about a very good one, fairly local to where my aunt was living and run by the faith community that she was an active member of.

We were invited for a visit and to have lunch at the care home and on the day my aunt was made to feel very welcomed and very special. She got to try out the hair salon, we had lunch with home manager and we took part in some of the afternoon’s activities. I saw my aunt enjoy herself and be so obviously stimulated in a way that was not happening day-to-day. The warmth of the staff gave me some reassurance, but best of all I saw my aunt’s frown disappear for the first time in ages. She just glowed! As far as I was concerned there was no question about my aunt staying there – the transformation in her in that short period was remarkable.

She had gone from being dispirited and often withdrawn to being far more conversational, stimulated and engaging. She had already started to charm many of the staff with her cheerful, kind and thoughtful nature.

I maintained my visiting routines as I had done whilst she was at home, we carried on talking about the things we always talked about and I made sure that her room was filled up with lots of familiar things.

In the last few months of her life when she was barely eating, the staff would sit patiently with her for as long as it took to with a few spoons of custard and cake. The looked after her and met her every need without hesitation and always made me feel welcome and included in her care. I was always contacted in a timely manner when there were any concerns and whenever I visited I was given all her paperwork to read through and discuss.

On the day that my aunt died, I was called to be with her, her last hours were peaceful and dignified. When she died in my arms the staff came to pay their respects and attended to her body with great care. I was given the office phone to call relatives around the world. As many as could came to her funeral and they all came to prayers and tea at the care home afterwards.

I will never be able to thank the staff at that care home for all they did to make my aunt’s last 16 months so fulfilled.

Thank you to Mary Hardcastle for sharing your story.

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