‘I’m lucky to interact with some amazing and unique people’ - dementia care worker speaks about the rewards of his job

Dementia Awareness Open Day at Halsey House in Cromer. Care assistant John Rogers with resident Ray

Dementia Awareness Open Day at Halsey House in Cromer. Care assistant John Rogers with resident Ray Lawrence. Picture : ANTONY KELLY - Credit: copyright ARCHANT 2017

A carer who works with people with dementia has spoken about the enjoyment he gets from his job.

Dementia Awareness Open Day at Halsey House in Cromer. Care assistant John Rogers with resident Ray

Dementia Awareness Open Day at Halsey House in Cromer. Care assistant John Rogers with resident Ray Lawrence. Picture : ANTONY KELLY - Credit: copyright ARCHANT 2017

John Rogers has been in care work for three years and now works with those with dementia at a Cromer care home.

'You never know what's going to happen one day, or between minute to minute,' said Mr Rogers, who is based at Danbury Lodge in The Royal British Legion's Halsey House.

The centre is one of five where the Legion provides dementia care to ex-service people and their dependents in their care homes.

Mr Rogers said: 'Being a carer for those with dementia is rewarding and challenging. You have to be passionate about the job you do and see it more as a lifestyle, supporting those living with dementia and adapting to their needs on a daily basis.

Kenneth and Muriel Brown in the 1940s. Photo: Royal British Legion

Kenneth and Muriel Brown in the 1940s. Photo: Royal British Legion - Credit: Sue Starling


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'You never know what you may deal with day-to-day but I wouldn't change it for the world as I'm lucky to interact with some amazing and unique people.'

One of the residents at the home, 88-year-old Muriel Brown, was born in London and worked in the Colonial Office in the city.

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During her time in London as a child she was evacuated to Abergavenny during the Second World War. But after returning to the city, she met her husband, Kenneth who was in the RAF and had served in Rhodesia.

After they married and Mr Brown had left service the couple moved to Holt, where they brought up their four daughters.

Kenneth and Muriel Brown. Photo: Royal British Legion

Kenneth and Muriel Brown. Photo: Royal British Legion - Credit: Sue Starling

Her family first started to notice signs of dementia in 2003/2004 after realising that Mrs Brown was becoming scatty with her memory. After her husband died in 2011, she moved to a flat and was cared for by family.

Daughter Wendy Metcalfe became her full-time carer. She said: 'As Mum's carer I began to notice more and more her memory lapses and behavioural changes after Dad died. She would become scared of going back to the flat on her own and fretted about being alone.'

After being hospitalised with a gall bladder issue, it was then the dementia was officially diagnosed in 2013.

'We decided the time had come to consider a care home and remembered that as Dad had served in the RAF, Mum would be eligible for Danbury Lodge.'

Muriel Brown, centre, with her four daughters including Wendy Metcalfe, right, who became her carer.

Muriel Brown, centre, with her four daughters including Wendy Metcalfe, right, who became her carer. Photo: Royal British Legion - Credit: Sue Starling

Mrs Brown has now been a resident for three years, and is cared for using the butterfly approach - where staff step into an individual's world rather than ripping them out and into reality.

Head of dementia care at Danbury Lodge, Laura Lodge, said: 'As dementia affects the short-term memory, the individual often reverts to the memories that resonate most strongly with them and many of our residents go back to the days of their military service, previous work or family life. Rather than trying to bring them back to our reality, which can often cause the person with dementia confusion and anxiety, as well as distress to the family, the butterfly approach is focused on emotional support for residents in their reality at a moment in time. This empowers them by giving them control over their lives and enables staff to understand their individual needs to improve their wellbeing.'

Another method used at the home is having a memory box. Mr Rogers said: 'Everyone one of our residents has a memory box. It has load of stuff in it, mostly things which relate to their life story.

'I had one gentleman, he's got a lot of gardening stuff in there, he's got a lot of football stuff in there. He also has a certificate from being a lifetime Legion member. When you pull it out and he looks at it, it makes him smile.'

Dementia Awareness Open Day at Halsey House in Cromer. Care assistant John Rogers with resident Ray

Dementia Awareness Open Day at Halsey House in Cromer. Care assistant John Rogers with resident Ray Lawrence. Picture : ANTONY KELLY - Credit: copyright ARCHANT 2017

Mr Rogers said he used the box to ask the man about seeds and when to plant them.

'It makes him feel like he can still impart wisdom,' he said. 'And that makes him happy because dementia can be a thing which pulls you down.'

He added: 'I've gained quite a lot of knowledge from working there, you don't just look after the client you look after the family as well, you care for them as much as you do the person. We're trying to promote that it's their home.

'The best compliment is that they feel a lot better knowing that someone is there to look after them and they can see they're happier, that's the biggest compliment.'

Dementia Awareness Open Day at Halsey House in Cromer. Care assistant John Rogers with resident Ray

Dementia Awareness Open Day at Halsey House in Cromer. Care assistant John Rogers with resident Ray Lawrence. Picture : ANTONY KELLY - Credit: copyright ARCHANT 2017

Before coming to the home, another resident Lorna Diamond was worrying daughter Denise Norman, 69, and from Alysham, with her erratic behaviour.

'Mother was ringing me eight or nine times a day and not remembering she'd done it. She'd say things like 'I can't find the dog!' and you'd go rushing round and there's the dog underneath the table,' Mrs Norman said. 'And she'd do things like putting the plastic electric kettle on the gas stove top.'

Mrs Diamond found a place at Danbury Lodge after she spent six weeks in hospital following a fall.

It was only then that Mrs Norman realised how much she'd been carrying on her shoulders.

'They said 'I don't know how you managed' and it's not until that's taken away that you think 'yeah, how did I manage?''

Mrs Lodge added: 'The number of people with dementia is set to increase considerably over the next few years, which is why the Legion is continuing to expand its range of services for older people.'

• Dementia Awareness Week – supported by the Alzheimer's Society – runs from May 15 – May 21. For more information, click here.

• The video highlighting the rewards of a career in care was funded by Norfolk County Council. For more information, see www.norfolkcarecareers.co.uk/

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