A Carer Story
By Amanda Butow, Consutlus Carer since 2007
Amanda recently completed an online course on the subject of compassionate care and would like to share with fellow carers some points which were covered, along with some thoughts, feelings and relevant quotations.
When arriving with a client – no doubt quite daunting if it is your first visit, or if the client profile sounds really challenging or has become ‘Another Suitcase, Another Hall’, ask yourself – “if I can do one thing to improve circumstances during my time here, what would it be?”
Meeting someone for the first time, remember you know very little about them; seeing age, illness, clothes, surroundings – biased assumptions enter your head – and those with dementia lose their autobiography.
When caring for a client with dementia, photographs may be the ‘key’ to giving insight into lives led; childhood, youth, a career and loss – all make up the person you will never know. Often family members become upset, embarrassed and withdraw.
Warmth, kindness, respect and courtesy are required - we reach out but it is not always a ‘one size fits all’ scenario and at times all we can do is ensure the following:
• When you feel overwhelmed, savour all that is beautiful and comforting. Take a deep breath of FRESH air.
• Your wellbeing is as important as those who you care for and you to need to be valued as an individual by the families of those you care for, by fellow carers and by your Care Consultants. A ‘thank you’ can make all the difference.
• Close your eyes and picture your ‘safe place’ – your bed at home, the embrace of a loved one, a childhood memory, a beach…
• My safe place is a fallen log that I lie on, in a bluebell wood, with the fragrance of wild garlic all around. If I keep really still, a badger on his evening meander is oblivious to my presence.
• I take myself there and absorb the peacefulness. Maybe wipe away a tear, express anger, but then soldier on, knowing the situation is not going to last too long.
• Eat and exercise like you are a diabetic heart patient so you don’t become one! The joints you damage today will get their revenge later!
• Music so invokes memories; gets us moving, lifts our mood and remember, most people do not mind if one sings out of tune!
Be courageous - What matters? What would happen if we give this a go?
Be curious - Try to understand what is happening at any given time and what may prompt you to act in a particular way.
Know who you are and what matters to you - Understand how you feel. Recognise what you are good at.
Share insights when circumstances are not going too well - Humour often helps here!
Security - Feeling safe physically, psychologically and emotionally
Belonging - Make and form relationships to feel valued
Continuity - The ability to make links between the past, present and future
Purpose - Discretionary choice
Achievement - Fulfillment on reaching goals
Significance - Made to feel that you matter
SAFETY + RELIABILITY CARE + COMPASSION HEALTH + WELLBEING
• Caring for someone
• Caring about someone
• Caring – a burden or a privilege?
Care is compassion and one day, we too will be old and frail.
I love these words of Plato’s:
“Music is a moral law. It gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, ﬂight to the imagination, a charm to sadness, and life to everything. It is the essence of order, and leads to all that is good, just and beautiful, of which it is the invisible, but nevertheless dazzling, passionate, and eternal form.”
“Age may wrinkle your face but lack of enthusiasm wrinkles your soul!”
“A bad attitude is like a ﬂat tyre – you can’t go anywhere until you change it!”