Caroline from Central London is 89 and has been living with Alzheimer’s since 2004.
Despite being in good physical health, as her Alzheimer’s advanced Caroline became more combative and angry. A high turn-over of live-in carers and an unsteady situation at home had prompted Caroline’s family to look into a care home as a calmer and more consistent environment.
Caroline’s daughter, Isabella, explains: “Over a long time mum had retreated into herself, becoming angry and distressed. There had been a lot of changes in her care and we were concerned she was not happy. In 2015 we very nearly took the step of moving her into a care home. But then, thankfully, we decided to keep going with live-in care. I am extremely glad we changed our minds.
In my experience care workers can vary a great deal, but Agincare’s regional manager is very supportive towards us and her care team. And when Mattildi joined mum as her live-in care worker almost three years ago it was a real game-changer.
Mattildi is a grown-up. She has such an interesting background. Following an archaeology degree in her native Greece Matthildi had other other careers before coming into care work, such as running a restaurant in America for some years. She only came into care shortly before coming to look after Mum, but she has a natural gift for the role. I really believe she finds her job rewarding.
Mattildi is so good at handling mum’s unusual domestic situation, which can often see different people coming and going in the house.
Under Mattildis’s care mum made real progress. When you’re caring for someone with dementia you need to have a thoughtful mindset and an instinctive feel for what works. You need to have resilience and determination, plus a warmth and kindness when you’re living in someone’s home. It isn’t just about keeping things tidy and simply washing and feeding someone, it’s about constant communication. Keeping talking to the person you’re caring for – patiently building a connection – makes an enormous difference. Mum is happier and calmer with Mattildi.
After a year of being with mum, Mattildi’s dedication was really paying off. Her attention to detail in her care of mum is amazing. What may seem small things were actually the result of enormous dedication. Mum was starting to engage with us again. Although she didn’t really recognise anyone or know our names, there were times when she would look at you and say something happy. This was amazing progress. Equally impressive was that after a lot of patience and encouragement from Mattildi, mum took her first bath after five years of fearing the water.
Mum had really got a lot better, but then last summer, while Mattildi was on holiday, mum had a fall and broke her hip. It really shook her. Mattildi was heartbroken too. She cares for mum as a human being and takes so much trouble with her. After all her hard work and patience it felt like she had to start again. But that’s what she’s done. Mum is beginning to walk around the room and Mattildi will take Mum round the park in her wheelchair.
Mattildi is brilliant with all the people in the house and with the home care staff who come in on a daily basis. She’s been so calm and sensible.
The key to it all is the continuity of care that live-in care brings. I feel that Mum is safe. And we’re especially lucky with Mattildi, because she stays with Mum for long periods of time – longer than other live-in carers. It helps because breaks are disconcerting for Mum – she loses confidence when Mattildi’s not here.
I can’t sing Mattildi’s praises high enough – she’s made such a difference. I hope she never leaves!