Winifred's story

How a one-page profile can help people with dementia reconnect with their past, recall happy memories and make decisions about a) who they want to spend time with and b) what would make them happy.

Ninety-two-year-old Winifred can be heard singing and laughing as she helps clean and tidy up at Bruce Lodge. Despite always being warm, generous and loving, Winifred, who has dementia, has not always been this satisfied and relaxed in her new home. Winifred's happiness increased dramatically when she produced a one-page profile.

One-page profiles were introduced at Bruce Lodge for people living in the home and people working there. The profiles have achieved several positive outcomes:

  1. For people working in the home, one-page profiles have enabled a greater understanding of each other.
  2. Each week, team members are now able to spend time away from their day-to-day activities to do something important with a person who lives in the home.
  3. For residents living with dementia, the one-page profiles act as a job description for their carers, allowing them to direct their own support and ensuring that the people providing the support understand what is important to them.

Everyone at Bruce Lodge, including housekeepers and maintenance staff, produced their own profiles. This helped the people living with dementia to be matched with the care and support team. Matching allowed the people living in the home to choose who they wanted to spend extra time with, based on their interests and what was important to them.

Winifred chose to spend her time with Beryl the housekeeper because she said she enjoyed helping out with the daily chores such as polishing, sweeping and mopping. Winifred's two daughters and the people working at Bruce Lodge found this out by sitting down with Winifred and chatting over tea and biscuits to inform her one-page profile. They asked about good days and bad days, past and present. What was going well and what needed to change. What Winifred had enjoyed in her life in the past, and what she would do, if she could, in the future.

Winifred's new relationship with Beryl and the extra responsibility now given to her have had an extraordinary effect on her happiness and wellbeing. At home she would routinely clean the house, so before this was identified in the one-page profile as being important to her, a big part of her life and identity had been missing.

Maureen and Bernie, Winifred's daughters, have noticed the change that the one-page profile has made to Winifred. She is happier, chatting more, using fuller sentences, sleeping better and is generally more 'alive'. Maureen says, "The difference is astounding. Mum was a housewife, a practical person who spent her life caring for her five children and our father, who died 20 years ago. Her desire to care for people was never blunted but the ability to do so was robbed from her and that left her very frustrated. These chores are helping her connect with other things from her past and are opening up new pathways in her mind. The first thing that we noticed had come back was her language. Within a week of working with Beryl she was recalling words much better and introducing me to other people by name, whereas before she didn't know who I was."

Winifred now has more choice and control over how she lives her life and how she is supported on a day-to-day basis. Winifred can often be found well into the evening, long after the housekeeper has gone home, sitting and folding the laundry. This has simply become the way she chooses to spend her time and the impact this has had on her happiness is evident for all to see. Not only is her smile lighting up her own room but she can be seen beaming all over the home as she reconnects with what she loves most: helping to look after others and bringing joy to the people she lives with.