So, I help to care for several gentlemen with extremely severe learning disabilities. Sometimes, it’s very stressful, sometimes it’s a little boring and a little tragic, but more often than not, it’s very entertaining. Please don’t think of me as a cold or callous person because I’ve used the term ‘Entertaining ‘. (Without maintaining a sense of humour, I couldn’t do this type of work) I’m referring to some of the outrageous things they get up to as unintentionally comical. I should point out that their levels of challenging behaviours fluctuate, and are often dependant on the time of day or night, the weather, their medication and how members of staff communicate with them.
One of the gentlemen, when he doesn’t have to leave the house, does very little activity throughout the day, apart from occasionally attempting to hand his carer a freshly laid nugget, if you get my meaning?! When I first witnessed this ‘Habit ‘ I was momentarily flummoxed, but somehow I managed to deal with it swiftly and without fuss. (See one of my previous blogs titled- Caring Support Work!) to get an idea of how I dealt with it. In the past, he would often throw it anywhere and everywhere. He would also go for the alternative of trying to put ‘It’ in your hand! Believe me when I say, we all learnt move very quickly to avoid the ‘Nuggets ‘. I have to admit that this gentleman is my favourite (I shouldn’t favoritise, but I really do have a soft spot for this chap) He has developing dementia, which I think is unbelievably cruel when you consider the multitude of other learning disabilities he has endured throughout his life so far.
Another habit he has is actually hiding a ‘nugget’ in one of the toy boxes in his bedroom, which can be strangely but grotesquely amusing when a member of staff is tidying his toy box up. Note to self: Always wear gloves when touching his toy box!!
This particular gentleman likes chocolate and beer (His favourite things) so most of the staff ensure he is able to enjoy 1 can of beer almost every day after eating his tea. Unfortunately, because of his dementia, he has difficulty remembering the bodily functions that most people take for granted, such as chewing his food. At most mealtimes, he regularly sits relatively still with his mouth full of food, and only starts to chew when prompted verbally or at times, when a staff member gently moves his lower jaw to begin the action of chewing. At times, when his mouth is full of food, he forgets that his mouth is actually full of food and tries to say something. It is at that point that it is a good idea to step away very quickly from the area of imminent food spray. Of course, the most important part of meal times is to ensure there is no risk of choking, which is why his food is blended, which makes the ‘Food spray’ very messy.
He also enjoys a cup of tea (Don’t we all) and asks for one every 10 minutes or so. However, he has a high sodium content, identified by his G.P, so we are instructed to try and limit his tea intake throughout the day. Of course, we do our job to the best of our ability, but it pulls on the heartstrings a little when be watches his housemates drinking when he isn’t. When he does occasionally come into the kitchen and shout “Drink” we tend to make him half a cup, which by the way, is a Tippi Cup. We discovered a long time ago, through trial and error, that everyday cups don’t work for him. He would grab at the cup of luke warm tea and pour it over his face and head, drenching himself, because he doesn’t understand the need to tip it slowly whilst it was nearly full. Hence switching to a cup usually used for infants. Many times he has grabbed an empty cup, put it to his lips and gulped as if it was full. Trying to prise the empty cup away from his steel-like grip is quite a task. In fact, we’ve found that it’s easier to let him keep his empty cup and fill a different cup with tea then swap it for him.
He’s quite a character, but he’s just one of the gentlemen we care for.
I’ll talk about them one by one in future posts. Until then 😊