An Interview with Rosie Lee, a memory support officer at Unique Senior Care
Find out more about Unique Senior Care here
Q: Tell me a little about yourself!
My name’s Rosie and I work for Unique Senior Care. I have lots of hobbies! I enjoy cycling and cooking. I also love to meet people and do a lot of volunteering. I’m a very social person!
Working as a Memory Support Officer in Unique Senior Care
Q: What role do you have in Unique Senior care?
I work as a Memory Support Officer for Unique Senior Care. I support clients with memory problems, Dementia, Parkinson’s and sometimes brain injuries. The support that I provide is non-clinical, because I’m not a doctor, and is therapy based. It mainly involves interacting, talking and communicating with our clients, as well as playing games such as scrabble, doing mind puzzles and singing. Basically, anything in which we can interact.
Q: Do you mind telling me more about Unique Senior Care?
Unique Senior Care is a large organisation.The company was founded by two gentlemen, who are both named Philip! They started the company because of their personal experiences seeking care for their own family members, which fueled their passion for ensuring people have access to high quality care. Unique Senior Care has 5 locations in Warwickshire, which provide extra care and support to clients in the comfort of their own homes, helping them to live as independently as possible. We have recently opened an office in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire too.
Find out more about Unique Senior Care through their website https://www.uniquecare.co.uk
Q: What would you say is your favourite part of your job?
The people! I love people. My job doesn’t feel like a job, because I enjoy interacting with people. I am a very sociable and very jolly person so I can work well with others and make conversation easily. It’s great to make them happy when I visit because then they can remember the emotions they felt with me. Even with dementia, they can still remember me when I come in.
Q: In your opinion, what is the most important thing about being a good memory support officer?
Being a good listener. Listening, talking, communicating and supporting them is really important. It’s also vital to understand and focus on what they want and like to do, rather than what I want, or think is best for them, listening to their needs and meeting them. Providing comfort and reassurance, being patient and smiling is also key! People with dementia can recognise smiles which gives them comfort.
Q: What are some of the difficult things about your job?
Dementia is a progressive disease, with different stages of severity. The hardest part of my job is probably when a client’s memory diminishes quite a lot and they can’t do the things they used to. Watching them get frustrated with anxiety because of this is very difficult.
Another very difficult thing is when families look after their family member with Dementia and see their family member change. For instance, when children see their mother with Dementia not being themselves, not remembering people and having a different personality, it can be really challenging for them.
Q: How has Covid-19 affected your work so far?
I’ve been very fortunate to still be able to go and visit clients, whilst being very careful with things like social distancing. Before Covid-19, we used to do a lot of group activities with our clients who live with Dementia, such as group singing and games. I was able to see more people at once, but now it’s all one-to-one. My workday is now longer than before because I spend more good quality time with each individual client as we can’t all meet together.
K: How often do you usually meet each client?
I visit 5 locations and see each client every week. If I happen to not visit them on a particular week because they’re not there (for example away, when they’re away with family) I will still always phone them to keep in touch.
Q: What motivated you to be a Memory Support Officer?
People. I love people and they’re what motivates me. Knowing that I’m doing something to help and support someone and their family is amazing.
Q: Do you have any advice for someone interested in going into your field of work?
You don’t have to have lots of degrees or lots of experience to help people living with dementia. What’s most important is to be a good listener, and be caring and understanding. It would also be helpful to understand the different stages of dementia.
How to help and communicate with someone who has Dementia
Q: What is the best way someone my age could help someone they know with Dementia?
Dementia is a disease of the brain. The way I see it, if you’re with someone who has Dementia, don’t treat them any differently. Treat them normally, the same you would a person without Dementia. Talk to them exactly how you would talk to everyone else. It’s really important not to make them feel any different, even though they may be forgetful and not remember things. While having a conversation with them, if they forget something or repeat themselves, it doesn’t matter; just continue to speak with them! If they ask you something ten times, just answer again ten times and speak to them normally.
K: How could someone my age best communicate with someone who has Dementia?
It’s important to realise the age of the person you’re communicating with. You’ll find a lot of people with Dementia are over 70, and things you may do now may be very different from what they’re interested in. It would be really helpful to have an understanding of the interests of people from their era, to make it easier for you to interact with them. For example, when dealing with someone in their 80’s, it might be difficult to talk to them about something like football.
Q: How can we contribute to the Dementia community?
There are lots of organisations and charities that you can join to help - such as Dementia Friends, the Alzheimer's Society and Age Concern. Even I myself sometimes contact them for help, support and advice.
Q: If someone had a family member with Dementia, how could they best support them?
Being patient, supportive and a good listener towards their family members would be really helpful. If you have a friend who has a parent with Dementia, reassure them that their parent just has a brain disease, which is what is causing their problems and help them to understand that it’s not anyone’s fault. It’s also good for family members to have the knowledge of how Dementia progresses over time, as different things happen as the disease progresses - understanding this will prepare family members and allow them to offer their best support.
Thank you for answering all my questions Rosie! :)