An Open Book, Part II

Written by Active Minds on Wednesday the 5th of February 2014.


Active Minds guest blogger, Lesley Woolfe, Project Co-ordinator for the Association of Jewish Refugees, writes about her latest visit with one of the people she cares for with dementia.

You can read about her first two visits with Mrs. K, here.

My latest visit with Mrs. K

Because of the success of the “In the Garden” picture book in my previous visit, I ordered another two books from Active Minds to take along to my befriending visit with Mrs K. When I arrived Mrs K was asleep and snoring in the chair. The carer told me that she had been asleep all morning. I took her hand and stroked it and talked to her. She stopped snoring and although her eyelids fluttered she just didn’t seem to have the energy or want to open them. I didn’t mind and I carried on an opened up one of the books I had brought along “Shopping in Pictures”. I described the pictures on the pages to Mrs K, some of which contained the beginnings of well known songs. This prompted me to begin singing the songs such as “I’ve got sixpence”; “I could have danced all night” and “How much is that doggy in the window”. Although Mrs K did not open her eyes I knew that she could hear me. After about half an hour, I told Mrs K that it was time for me to leave and that I was putting on my coat. She immediately opened her eyes and held out her hand to me which I grasped and held for a few seconds – what a moment! She then shut her eyes and went back to sleep.  I just knew that she could hear me!

Even if you don’t feel you are getting a reaction or that someone is not listening to you remember that they are probably listening to everything you are saying but that they may not have the energy or the desire to be totally involved. Please be patient and carry on with your visit, as you just never know you may also get a reaction!

My name is Lesley Woofe. I am Project Coordinator for the Association of Jewish Refugees. My role is to recruit, train and match volunteer befrienders with our members who have dementia. The Association of Jewish Refugees (The AJR) provides an extensive range of social and welfare services, and grants financial assistance to Jewish victims of Nazi persecution living in Great Britain.

The Organisation was founded as a Friendly Society in 1941 by Jewish refugees from Central Europe and now has extensive experience attending to the needs of Holocaust refugees and survivors who came to this country before, during and after the Second World War.

When caring for our clients with dementia we need to be mindful of past painful memories that we do not wish to evoke and this is an additional challenge for our volunteer befrienders. We therefore need to be inventive and creative when befriending our clients and the Active Minds Books are certainly useful for this.

Thank you to Lesley for her time, and for sharing.