The Watermill case study

The_Watermill.jpgCaring for a carer – The Watermill case study

Christine Dingley, manager of The Watermill, explains the importance of supporting people to care for their loved ones, and making everyone feel part of a welcoming and helpful community.

The Watermill is 40 bed residential care home for people living with dementia, with 10 of the beds set aside for respite care.

Respite is a service that is offered to family carers to provide a safe place for them to leave their loved one if they are going on holiday or just need a break.

This is how we first came to know a couple I will call John and Joan*. She was diagnosed with dementia and was coming to stay with us on respite when John, who was her only carer, needed a rest. 

When the respite period was coming to an end, an assessment took place and it was felt that Joan’s needs were such that he could not cope at home on his own. While he was pleased that she was somewhere she would be well cared for, he was obviously upset that they would be apart. 

When she moved into The Watermill, John visited every day. They had no close relatives nearby, so there was no one else to visit or to help him with transport across town. 

It proved to be quite taxing for him, particularly during the winter months, as he has a heart condition himself. 

Recognising the need to support John as the sole family carer for his wife, and make sure he felt welcome and comfortable visiting her, staff went out of their way to support him. 

They provided him with a warm lunch on cold winter days, which he could sit and eat with his wife. He visited for Christmas dinner and Boxing Day, so he could spend those special days with his wife and not be home alone. 

In the New Year John fell ill himself, and was unable to visit for a short time. Staff phoned him every day to make sure he was okay, and tell him how his wife was doing. 

Now recovered, he visits regularly – but not every day now. On days when he can’t get there, he rings in for an update. On days when he does visit, staff make sure he phones them when he gets home so they know he is safe. 

We know that caring for a loved one can be difficult and challenging, whether it is taking place in the home or another setting. Having some help and support can make all the difference, both practically and to the carer’s own well-being and quality of life.

*Names have been changed to protect anonymity