Shannen

We really enjoy our evenings together, we have a cup of tea and biscuits and a chat on the sofa. She puts the blanket over our knees and likes to hold my hand while we are watching the television, it’s a comfort for her. 

Rowena is in her 90s and has Alzheimer’s. She is such a sweet, kind lady, a lovely person. It’s like being with a friend. Sometimes I’m having such a good time with her it doesn’t feel like I’m at work. 

I became a care assistant after I was made redundant from Virgin Atlantic where I was a flight attendant. 

There are two of us who take care of Rowena. I live with her every other week and always look forward to coming back to see her.  

I have noticed over the weeks how much her confidence has grown; she has become more engaged in conversations and likes to try new things. Recently I introduced her to Netflix which she absolutely loves and one of her favourite series is The Crown. 

We have fun together, we always have a laugh, and when I see Rowena smiling it makes me happy. 

We sing along to her favourite CDs and sometimes she starts dancing, having a twist. I’m not a great dancer but I dance with her. 

Rowena looks forward to our daily walk together and we have gradually walked further, her appetite has also been increasing. I cook for her, she has forgotten how to do all that, although sometimes she helps me peel the vegetables. I like to help her maintain her independence so she can still feel like she is running her own home. We also enjoy spending time in her beautiful garden or playing scrabble. 

There are shelves of photograph albums, and we look through those together in her front room. Rowenal tells me stories and I absolutely love hearing about her life. The wedding album is my favourite. There’s a beautiful picture of her in her wedding dress, and when I comment on her tiny waist and how gorgeous she looked she blushes and laughs. 

Her husband died recently. Every day she walks past his portrait in the hallway and says: ‘hello darling.’ If she gets upset, I tell her to think about the wonderful memories they had together and that always works. She is such a positive person. 

Rowena absolutely loves her home. It’s the family home and I think being here has helped and comforted her. It reassures her and is a familiar space. You can see she feels really safe which is nice. It would have made it so much tougher for her if she’d had to go and live somewhere else. 

She can become confused and requires support and prompting for most things in her daily life. Sometimes she’ll forget my name, but she knows who I am. 

When we go to the shops Rowenal links my arm and won’t leave my side. I’m the person she turns to for reassurance. If she is trying to choose between two different packets of biscuits she will say: ‘what would I like?’ That’s what makes this job so rewarding. I have learnt to understand her. 

I am there to support her and that puts her family’s mind at ease. They trust me to look after her and I have formed a lovely bond with them. They have added me to a group chat so I can send them updates and pictures and they are always checking in and phoning. They are so supportive and it’s brilliant how they have welcomed me in. 

Starting a career in the care sector and working with someone who has Alzheimer’s can be challenging at times. But the training and support I have been given by Bluebird Care has been brilliant. I never feel alone.  

Working with Rowena has really been a blessing. I have found it worthwhile and so rewarding to see the difference I have made to someone else’s life. 

 

NB.  The customer names in this article have been changed to protect identities.