Working with people with dementia has changed Wendy Bray’s life.
Four months into her role as activities co-ordinator at a care home in Worthing, she is relishing the opportunity to improve the lives of the residents.
Armchair zumba, beanbag tennis and musical bingo are all proving popular, while music sessions and the new gardening club are particularly engaging.
Wendy was originally employed to do two 12-hour night shifts at Lavender Lodge, in Mill Road, but after just a few shifts, her talents were recognised.
“Having no previous care experience or knowledge of dementia, my unique and bubbly personality, and my way of communicating with our residents, were noticed by the manager Claire Mitchell and I was offered the additional role of activities co-ordinator,” she explained.
“Feedback has been phenomenal and I was told I made a big difference to the house in just a few weeks of working there.”
She does superman impressions outside the residents’ doors when walking past to make them laugh. Her influence has made them more motivated and they are usually keen to join in the group sessions she organises every weekday morning.
Cyril Odd, 92, lost his wife of 70 years about 18 months ago. She had been in the home quite some time before she died at the age of 90 and was happy there.
He now returns every week on a Thursday to take a bunch of flowers and have lunch with the residents and staff.
He said: “Kitty was a lovely lady. We did everything together and she knew me right to the end. I always bought a bunch of flowers to her and I wanted to carry on doing the same thing.”
Cyril used to play the banjo, before he lost feeling in his fingertips, and said music had really helped Kitty.
“It is very important because it takes people away from their troubles,” he added.
Wendy has been introducing more music to the home and has even started learning the guitar.
“Music is a big thing,” she explained. “It changes your mood.”
Growing things has also been a success, after Wendy took in tomato and herb seeds.
She said: “Some of them are remembering and ask how the plants are doing, so there has been a real connection there.”
Wendy is organising a Pamper and Sparkle evening, with therapists and local crafts, to raise money for equipment, including a whiteboard for memory games, large print sharing books and musical instruments.
It will be held at the Marquis of Granby pub in Sompting on Wednesday, July 19, from 7pm to 9pm and entry is free.