Book and chic fur­ni­ture help de­men­tia suf­fer­ers

Bangor Mail - - YOUR COMMUNITY -

AWOMAN has used a diary she and her sis­ter kept about her father’s ex­pe­ri­ences of de­men­tia to write a book to help other suf­fer­ers

Pam Cuf­fin’s father died in a nurs­ing home in 2014 and, soon af­ter, her sis­ter also trag­i­cally passed away.

But she wrote a book based on her and her sis­ter Joan’s diaries, about her dad’s bat­tle with de­men­tia and her fas­ci­na­tion with the dis­ease and those liv­ing with it, has con­tin­ued to grow.

Now she has been short­listed for a Wales Care Award in the Ex­cel­lence in De­men­tia Care cat­e­gory, spon­sored by HC One.

This year sees the 15th an­niver­sary of the Wales Care Awards with a cer­e­mony to be staged at City Hall in Cardiff on Fri­day, Oc­to­ber 19.

The awards are or­gan­ised by Care Fo­rum Wales, which cel­e­brates its 25th an­niver­sary this year.

Keen photographer Pam, 57, lives in Holy­head with hus­band Robin, and is an ac­tiv­i­ties co-or­di­na­tor at Fair­ways Newydd Nurs­ing and De­men­tia Care Cen­tre at Llan­fair­p­wll.

Pam has es­tab­lished Bleak to Chic, a fur­ni­ture ren­o­va­tion busi­ness, with res­i­dents liv­ing with de­men­tia.

“Lo­cal auc­tion houses have been very good and have taken items with­out charg­ing a fee,” she said.

“We paint our ren­o­vated fur­ni­ture in very bright colours, yel­lows and reds, never greys or browns which are nor­mally as­so­ci­ated with de­men­tia. The colours are like a bea­con of hope.

“It’s re­mark­able to see some­one who is oth­er­wise liv­ing in a dif­fer­ent world, and seem­ingly un­reach­able within it, come to life when work­ing with skills that were laid down decades be­fore.”

Pam was nom­i­nated for the award by Mark Bai­ley, man­ag­ing di­rec­tor of Fair­ways Newydd Ltd.

Pam, who has two grown up chil­dren, Gareth and Laura, with chil­dren of their own, said her in­volve­ment with de­men­tia be­gan in 2005 when her father Owain Tudur Hughes was di­ag­nosed with the dis­ease.

“I started by read­ing a book by Thomas Kit­wood and read every­thing and any­thing I could get my hands on about de­men­tia there­after,” she said.

In 2010, her father was ad­mit­ted to hospi­tal. Her mother, Olive Hughes, was dy­ing of re­nal fail­ure and her dad’s be­hav­iour was im­pact­ing on her care.

Pam was try­ing to look af­ter both par­ents and says she wit­nessed for the first time the misun­der­stand­ings that of­ten oc­cur in care.

Her father was la­belled ag­gres­sive be­cause of the way he threat­ened vis­i­tors with his walk­ing stick. The re­al­ity was that he was us­ing the stick to point to things as he had al­ways done.

For a time, her father lived in a res­i­den­tial home and Pam says the ex­pe­ri­ence here was again poor.

Staff could not deal with her dad’s mood swings. “On more than one oc­ca­sion I had to cut him out of his py­ja­mas be­cause they were so fouled,” she says.

In early 2011 Pam’s father was trans­ferred to a nurs­ing home and the ex­pe­ri­ence was much bet­ter, but she very soon be­came con­vinced that she could keep the res­i­dents bet­ter oc­cu­pied than the staff there could.

Af­ter her father died, she took a job as a carer in a res­i­den­tial home and gained her NVQ 2 and 3. Then she gained a full-time job as an ac­tiv­i­ties co-or­di­na­tor at Fair­ways Newydd Nurs­ing and De­men­tia Cen­tre and, for the first time, could give free reign to her de­sire to pro­vide ‘mean­ing­ful ac­tiv­ity and gen­uine oc­cu­pa­tion to peo­ple liv­ing with de­men­tia’.

“Peo­ple with de­men­tia come alive be­fore your eyes,” says Pam. “Cog­ni­tive de­cline just slips away as soon as you tap into a skill from the past. I call them life chores. And my job is to find them.”

Mark Bai­ley said: “Pamela has served an ap­pren­tice­ship that no one would choose, and few would have the for­ti­tude to en­dure so tire­lessly.”

Mario Kreft MBE, the Chair of Care Fo­rum Wales, said the Wales Care Awards had gone from strength to strength.

Pic­ture: Mandy Jones Pho­tog­ra­phy

Fair­ways Newydd Ltd Nurs­ing and De­men­tia Care Cen­tre res­i­dent Pam Wil­liams with Pamela Cuf­fin, ac­tiv­i­ties co-or­di­na­tor who has been nom­i­nated for a Wales Care Award in the Ex­cel­lence in De­men­tia Care cat­e­gory

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