20 September 2019
Von Corner, our Development Manager in Roby Court recently undertook a dementia awareness course with colleagues. Here she explains how they recently learned and how we might help those affected.
We came together as a group with a variety of different experiences. Initially, we were provided with an overview of Dementia and its different presentations by an Alzheimer’s Society facilitator.
As a mental health nurse and holding a university diploma in dementia studies none of the subject matter was new to me but was a good refresher. It was enlightening to share our experiences which we went on to feed into the training package that we would design and structure as a group to be rolled out across the company.
Split into groups we put together a presentation about different aspects of dementia and worked into the night to complete. The presentations provided the foundation for the framework for the FirstPort Dementia Awareness training based on the information resources provided by the Alzheimer’s society. It was intense and hard but enjoyable work as we all recognise the need to address this issue with aging populations of residents.
How do we use the training?
Initially, we did a couple of workshops which were great fun and boosted the confidence and skill set of all involved.
The training is used every day in my own personal working practice, by supporting residents and liaising with family members. Quite often, there are queries on Yammer our internal social media channel or the odd phone call, or even a discussion at a hub meeting between a number of colleagues. People now recognise that there is a ‘go-to’ person on their team which is a useful resource. I am keen to reinforce that our role is about providing information and support to colleagues.
Supporting other Development Managers to recognise signs of dementia and perhaps instigate changes for their benefit will be really helpful.
Life as a Development Manager
Every day begins with opening up the office and checking emails/telephone messages. Everything is switched on and buzzes into life. A new day. Check the diary – no viewings booked in, update the notice board – fire alarm test, any appointments or reminders?
Hello from the chap who takes the mail each morning and picks up papers for some of his neighbours – we exchange a few words. He is off to see his daughter soon and his face is alive with the thought of it.
Mental health first aid plays a big part in my role. Listening, validating and reassuring and where appropriate signposting.
Some of the ladies come down into the reception area and make themselves comfortable. There is an air of excited expectation as their long planned and awaited holiday is about to get underway. A mixed group of women who have found friendship together since moving into the development. The camera comes out and I say; ‘holiday!’ A good memory. I open the door and all of a sudden they are gone. The reception area quiet again.
Off to the guest room. Have decided on a deep clean and stripping everything off both beds and washing duvets and covers. The cleaners will be in later so no need to hoover and mop on this occasion. It’s a fresh day and the sun is shining.
A good walk around the development; checking the bin store, ceilings, décor, heaters, electrical equipment, furnishings, floor coverings, stairwell nosing’s, plant rooms etc.
As I walk around the development carrying out health and safety checks, I take the opportunity to pop into some of the more vulnerable residents to see how they are going. So checks and five welfare checks completed, then head back to the office.
Then it’s time for the fire alarm test. This is one of my favourite bits of the job. Not only is it imperative to ensure that everything is in order but just love setting the alarm off! The lady who I usually remind has gone on holiday – she has severe memory loss and gets terribly anxious when the alarm goes off so a gentle reminder just serves to reassure. Walking the corridors with purpose, checking that all is in order and that the alarm sounders are working. Walking quickly and alert. Then it’s all over, paperwork completed and signed off for another week.
Mental health first aid plays a big part in my role. Listening, validating and reassuring and were appropriate signposting. Also organising social events as we don’t have a social committee.
Social isolation is a massive issue for older people and part of our role, although not underlined, is to foster community cohesion and links with local organisations. The Development Manager’s coffee morning is an ideal occasion to facilitate this. So far we have had talks provided by; the falls team, Merseyside fire and rescue, Retirement HomeSearch, chiropody, domiciliary optician, waste management team, aids, and adaptations team, U3A, local councillors, various charities, Police (scams) etc.
This is a mere glimpse into one day.
Dementia training is now essential for Development Managers in retirement developments. We all need those skills to support and enable residents to remain as independent for as long as possible as well as maintaining the safety and well-being of the whole community.
We build relationships with our residents which means we get to know them which in turn means we know when something isn’t quite right. Then we can respond with reassurance, information sharing, and signposting.
Development Managers talk to each other, not necessarily as regularly as they should but this is where our recent Mental Health First Aiders training comes into its own. As first aiders, we actively listen. Not just to colleagues but to residents and their visitors. We want to be able to support each other well and build emotional resilience. That strength feeds into self-confidence and that can do approach to life.
World Alzheimer’s Day takes place on 21 September and is part of World Alzheimer’s Month. This year’s focus is stigma, and we need your help to break the stereotypes and myths that surround a dementia diagnosis.
If you would like to find out more about becoming a Development Manager and being part of a broad support team, please visit our Careers pages to find out more: