Namaste Care: Volunteer Liz Goes Above and Beyond

Read Liz’s inspiring story of her work as a Namaste Care volunteer, as she went above and beyond to support a community member living with dementia.

Our Namaste Care programme provides personalised care, emotional and social support through meaningful activities and sensory stimulation. One of our volunteers, Liz, recently went the extra mile to provide extraordinary care to one of our community members – Arthur (name changed to protect patient privacy).

Arthur is a 79 year old man with dementia, who at the time of referral was living in a nursing home. Originally from Barbados, he used to work as a bus driver and loved fixing things. He is a chatty person who enjoys music and likes to keep his room neat and tidy. Arthur’s dementia impacts his balance, vision and memory, which often makes it hard for him to recognise people or retain information. He has trouble engaging in conversations and activities, as he speaks repetitively and can become agitated. Over time, Arthur has become increasingly socially isolated and stays alone in his room.

Arthur was matched with our Namaste volunteer, Liz. Liz is 26 years old and describes herself as shy, but open to going beyond her comfort zone. During her first visit with Arthur, she spent the time to understand his way of expressing himself. Initially, she had a difficult time understanding his speech, but she soon realised that she could use more creative ways to engage with him. What followed was Liz successfully employing a range of imaginative sensory activities to get a better understanding of Arthur’s inner world.

Liz and Arthur met over 10 sessions. In the beginning, their conversations tended to be one-sided, with him being visibly disgruntled when interrupted. By their 8th session, Liz was able to form a positive connection with Arthur and he began to engage more in conversations and activities with her. Liz noted a substantial shift into two-way communication and he was even laughing and visibly enjoying Liz’s company. For their 2 last sessions, Liz created two imaginative immersive experiences.

The Beach

For the ninth session, Liz created a full sensory experience emulating a trip to the beach. To stimulate his sight and hearing, Liz projected a Caribbean beach scene onto a big white wall in his room and played Bajan music combined with the sound of waves crashing. She even went so far as to dress up in snorkelling gear, after noticing his amusement at passers-by in fancy dress in a previous session. Needless to say, Arthur found this very funny.

To stimulate his sense of smell, she lit a ‘beach escape’ candle and put on some sunscreen. Liz then provided an inflatable palm tree cooler filled with seashells and kinetic sand, along with alligator, turtle and castle moulds to make sand art. Liz saw a transformation in Arthur, as he became exceptionally precise and articulate in conversation and used a wider vocabulary. He also asked Liz which mould she’d like to use, and shared a story about a boat.

The Circus

In their final session, Liz planned ‘a trip to the circus’ for them both. She brought along various stuffed animals from her home, one of which was a disproportionately large fish. Arthur found this so funny that his laughter brought tears to his eyes. He stroked the stuffed animals throughout the session and Liz brought popcorn, which they ate together. Liz projected the Ringling Brothers onto the wall, and played circus music on the speakers. In their previous sessions, Liz had noticed Arthur enjoyed seeing children playing outside and so she chose a clip which had frequent shots of toddlers. Arthur exclaimed “look at the little ones” and “so cute”, which then prompted him to tell Liz about his mother.

Liz’s exceptional effort in supporting Arthur is the perfect example of what Namaste Care can achieve. Liz was mindful of Arthur’s reactions and responses to both his environment and their interactions together, and built on this to create meaningful activities which allowed him to express himself. Through Liz’s thoughtful, imaginative and stimulating sessions Arthur was empowered to feel less isolated and his emotional wellbeing was noticeably improved.

For more information, visit our Namaste Care page here.