Befriending: Sharon’s StoryArticle Written:
Sharon is an 81-year-old female living with dementia – specifically Alzheimer’s disease. She lives alone but does have some family support, which is limited to mainly food shopping and medical appointments. Sharon also has carers attending each day to support with personal care and meals.
Sharon started attending social and craft sessions at Middleport Matters in 2021 and thoroughly enjoyed a variety of activities. She especially enjoyed socialising and building a rapport with other local residents. Sharon is an only child, so has always sought out and found great pleasure in the company of others.
In June 2022, the symptoms of Sharon’s dementia became more apparent, and she struggled to remember the days of the different social sessions and would turn up at the wrong times. We made adjustments and began arranging travel where possible, but over the next 6 months the confusion was causing Sharon considerable distress and after a period of being unwell, she stopped attending sessions with us and we kept in contact by occasional phone conversations.
As part of the pilot for The Hubb Club befriending project, in July 2023, we contacted Sharon to offer weekly visits to her home by one of our trained volunteers. We paired Sharon with a 46-year-old female volunteer, Liz, who has been working for the NHS in various roles for 26 years and is experienced working with and supporting patients of all ages. Liz has a caring nature, is very patient, and has fantastic communication skills. We arranged an accompanied visit to Sharon, with Liz and a member of our team. The pair immediately got on and the conversation flowed easily. Sharon thoroughly enjoyed recalling stories of the past and the pair were at ease the entire time. Liz left the visit feeling positive that the befriending service would be of great benefit to Sharon. Liz continued to visit Sharon weekly at her home and Sharon was full of praise for Liz and enjoyed her visits greatly.
After numerous successful visits, Liz asked Sharon if she’d like to attend a social session again at the community hub to see how she’d get on. Sharon was excited and agreed that the next week, Liz would come to pick her up and go with her to a session. Attending the session was a success and Sharon remembered a lot of the people who were there and had a lovely time chatting with old friends and making new acquaintances. Sharon’s mood was noticeably lighter, and she was full of smiles and laughter with the group. Liz noticed that Sharon was remembering more stories from her life and relished the opportunity to share them with others.
We reviewed the befriending match, and decided that instead of weekly home visits, Liz would collect Sharon to attend a social session together. This arrangement has been working well as Liz usually attends the session each week, and it has eliminated the issue of Sharon not remembering when the sessions are as Liz is able to turn up to Sharon’s home each week, ask if she’d like to attend and then accompany her there. Sharon’s social circle has been widened and has created a sense of belonging. Sharon has noticed that she feels happier and less isolated.
Would you, or anyone you know, benefit from joining a 12 week programme to receive weekly visits to your home or phonecalls from one of our trained befrienders? If you’re a resident of Middleport, Longport or Dalehall and would benefit from having someone to talk to, please get in touch to sign up.
If you’re a caring, compassionate, and friendly person looking for a volunteer opportunity, take a look at our Volunteer Befriender Role Description and contact us here, call us on 01782 817590, or call in to see us.