Care UK has published a free new guide to help families caring for a loved one living with dementia. The publication, As Easy as ABC, was launched by TV talent show judge and choreographer Arlene Phillips and brings together 100 practical suggestions from specialist teams working in care homes across the country.
The book, targeted primarily at the families and carers of the estimated 800,000 people with dementia in the UK, aims to give home carers some ideas and inspiration for ways to get the most out of the time they spend looking after a loved one.
It is also aimed at those who want to make the most of their visits to loved ones who have moved into residential care – and shows that supporting someone living with dementia is not always as difficult as it first seems. Copies of the guide were available free to visitors to Care UK residential homes on National Care Home Open Day and can be downloaded from here.
From the best way to make breakfast to ways to use YouTube to trigger memories of household products, packaging and advertisements from the past the guide gives practical advice on everyday ways to support and maintain quality of life.
Ideas range from craft activities and games the whole family can join in with and suggestions for ways to spark memories and conversations, to ways to make the most of meals together and simple changes at home that can make a big difference.
Care UK puts these ideas – a philosophy of Activity Based Care – into practice in 107 care homes in England and Scotland. But the suggestions, from simple ways to help someone maintain their independence to how to make the most of special occasions and days out, are just as valuable for families supporting and caring for a loved one in their own home.
Arlene, who was awarded a CBE for her services to charity in the New Year Honours list, is a passionate advocate for better care for elderly people. She cared for her father before the time came when he needed full-time residential care due to the effects of Alzheimer’s disease.
“Deciding that residential care was the right way forward was tremendously difficult,” Arlene revealed. “He forgot things like where he lived and leaving the gas on and I took up the role of carer. But eventually his mental state deteriorated to the point where I knew the care I was giving was not enough.
“I personally struggled to make the most out of the final years I spent with my father. Having ideas on how to spend time with him, like those in As Easy as ABC, would have helped a great deal but now others can benefit.
Deirdre Timney, Care UK’s expert on Activity Based Care, said: “Thousands of people around the country are caring for a friend or loved one who is living with dementia, and many of them will never have access to any kind of training or support.
“This book is designed to offer real-life examples and practical hints and tips about how to care for someone and some of them may be a surprise – for example, we suggest that sometimes, taking a step back and doing a little less can be the best way to help someone keep their independence. We’ve included a wide range of ideas, from simply reminiscing over old photos to gentle exercise and how to manage trips out.”