September is World Alzheimer’s Month – an international campaign to raise awareness about Alzheimer’s and challenge stigma associated with the condition. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia which affects memory, thinking, problem solving and language.
Greensleeves Care, a national care charity, has responded to this challenge by introducing a dementia service at all its care homes including Pelsall Hall in Walsall. As part of its dementia service, the charity has changed the way it recruits and trains its staff and has created a dementia friendly culture within all its care homes. The care provided to residents is based on the principles of ‘personhood’ by Dr Tom Kitwood. He identified that all human beings have the need for comfort, attachment, inclusion, occupation and identity. These needs are even more significant for those living with Alzheimer’s and other types of dementia.
At Pelsall Hall, staff introduced a number of therapies and activities that help people living with dementia to communicate and stimulate their memory. One form of therapy that was found to be of particular benefit for people in the mild to moderate stages of dementia was Cognitive Stimulation Therapy (CST). This form of therapy uses many researched therapeutic approaches in structured 30-45 minute group therapy session. It helps with memory and communication.
A typical CST session at Pesall Hall involves listening to a chosen song, which forms an introduction to the session, and acknowledging key details such as the date, season and weather. This is followed by 14 different structures when residents look at current news stories with discussion and the sharing of opinions. They may play games such as skittles where scoring can be kept to prompt numerical skills or take part in a physical activity. The therapy session finishes with the same chosen song and a date for the next session is agreed with the group.
Fiona McCracken, Activity Coordinator at Pelsall Hall said: “We found that Cognitive Stimulation Therapy is the best form of therapy for people living with dementia we tried at Pelsall Hall. Our residents greatly enjoy the sessions and we found that with time they remember more and complete numerical tasks more easily.”
In addition to Cognitive Stimulation Therapy, the home has also introduced music based percussion programme called BEAMZ where residents with dementia can use arm movements to break beams of light to play along to familiar songs they choose.