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A Guiding Hand

 

‘Red & Yellow made me feel supported; like I wasn’t facing the challenge alone.’

My father has lived between Africa, India and London throughout his life. He has a long standing diagnosis of epilepsy and around 2 years ago was diagnosed with the onset of dementia. In September 2014, it was agreed that he should come back to London a couple of weeks sooner than his scheduled trip from Africa, to have some medical check-ups as he was unwell.

His health took a turn for the worse and he rapidly declined after landing back in the UK. Within days we saw a private Neurologist and his GP who admitted him immediately to hospital. He was experiencing hallucinations and severe paranoia; the hospital called it an “acute delirium”, and I had never experienced anything like this behaviour before. Whilst in hospital he also started becoming very aggressive.

He was treated in hospital, and when all his tests came back normal it was suggested that he be discharged as he would be more settled at home in his own environment after having started new medication. We were referred to an Old Age Psychiatrist to help manage the behavioural changes with his dementia and review the medication. That’s how we found Red & Yellow Care. Their team consists of many Old Age Psychiatrists, and other healthcare professionals, and they specialise in people with dementia.

Within 3 days of the referral being sent to Red & Yellow Care, we were given an appointment. To start with, we saw Dr Ananth, a Consultant Old Age Psychiatrist. She came to our home and performed a comprehensive review of my father’s mental state, his behaviour, and his medication. At this stage, we were all struggling with his behaviour, which was at times very disturbing and aggressive, and it was so helpful to see someone who had experience and had seen this before. Dr Ananth wrote her report and gave us some recommendations, some of which focussed on reducing the medication he had started. She also introduced to us Gwyn Grout, a Nurse Consultant at Red & Yellow Care.

My father started to see Gwyn on a weekly basis, and at a time where life was extremely difficult, she was an absolute blessing. On return to the UK we had a whole team of professionals assisting with my father’s health including his GP, and Neurologist. Changes in one part of his care plan, affected his care in all other areas and it was left to me to coordinate this. Once Gwyn was on board she helped coordinate with the doctors when necessary for dad’s dementia, and liaised with all the relevant parties so that everyone was up to date and could work together to improve his health. She helped to support us, to monitor dad’s health and to give us the tools and techniques to help him when his behaviour was volatile and extremely difficult. She was intuitive and with her vast experience was able to pick up on things (like when he was in pain or discomfort) without us having to tell her and often early enough to prevent further crises. She never played down the severity of what we were facing, and trusted in what we were saying. It was wonderful to be listened to. Gwyn also helped with medication and, with Dr Ananth’s help, we switched to a combination that calmed him and helped with his paranoia, which had become one of the biggest issues we faced.

Gwyn became an integral part of my father’s care team, and she gave us her mobile number so we could contact her any time. Inevitably, my father’s episodes occurred often at weekends, and sometimes in the early hours of the morning. At this time Red & Yellow Care were not offering visits out of hours, which would have been particularly useful. On Sunday at 3am there are almost no services you can turn to get help and the advice is usually to wait it out or go to A&E, neither of which is a helpful option at the time. I understand Red & Yellow Care are working towards an out of hours service in the future which I’m sure will benefit many people.

Gwyn also worked very closely with my father’s own private nurse, who we had employed some 12 years earlier to manage his epilepsy. Gwyn worked very well with her in giving her the confidence to cope with the nature of dementia. They respected each other’s expertise and formed a good relationship, which was a relief for us.

Red & Yellow Care also assisted us in finding home care for my father. We had trialled carer’s from many different companies, who claimed to be specialists in dementia, but did not have the experience and skills required for my father once in place. Gwyn introduced us to Harley Street Care, who we used for a short period of time, but found them to be excellent.

Unfortunately by the time we found Harley Street Care, it was towards the end of our care journey in the UK. Gwyn accompanied us on my father’s journey to his home abroad. We were delighted that Red & Yellow were able to offer us this service. We first needed approval that he was well enough to fly, so we saw a Consultant Geriatrician from Red & Yellow, who again came to the home and assessed Dad. She approved him to fly, and the process of arranging Gwyn to chaperone him on the flight and to spend a few days helping him to settle in, was quickly dealt with. It was such a comfort to have a clinical professional with us, as there was much nervousness as to how his behaviour would manifest throughout the journey. Having Gwyn, with her skills in managing his difficult behaviour, and her qualification to make medication changes if needed, offered us reassurance that we could get him there with minimal disruption. The journey was a success, and on arrival at the home, where we had arranged for dad’s new care team to be present over the coming days, Gwyn proceeded to give them a detailed handover, imparting the crucial knowledge she had built up in her time with us. We were concerned about the quality of the healthcare abroad and about over medicating, but Gwyn ensured there was clarity on these issues with his new doctors before heading back to London.

Since my dad moved, on the whole, he has been much happier, and I’m pleased we used the time in London to stabilise his health so that the move was possible. I have remained in touch with the team at Red & Yellow Care, and know that I can call upon them at any time, even to get advice about concerns related to dad’s care abroad, as and when I want.

My experience with Red & Yellow Care overall was wonderful, and I would recommend them to anyone struggling with Dementia. The clinical team are excellent, and the personalised customer service led by Symi made me feel supported; like I wasn’t facing the challenge alone. I look forward to maintaining my relationships with Gwyn and Symi, and have no doubt that I will call on them again should we face difficult times with Dad’s health again. I’d like to thank the team involved in my dad’s care for all their efforts and contributions.

 

 

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