Keeping Connected on a Package

We first discovered Harry as a friend before he became a client. He lived down the street from our office, and our office staff would often chat to him while ordering coffee in the morning from a local cafe - but told us he was struggling.

Harry helping us with some typing in the office

Harry had an early diagnosis of dementia and could not drive, but he loved people and missed being around a lot of people every day. He also reported it was getting more and more difficult to remember to take his medication, and some days he would go without. We began to make a habit of asking him each day if he had taken his tablets, but grew concerned that he was forgetting more and more.

Our staff advised him how to be assessed for a home care package, and on learning he was eligible for funding to remind him to take his tablets and get out a bit more he was thrilled.

As a level one home care client it was just enough to cover the medication prompts but there was not enough left over to meet his needs to get connected.

In thinking through how we could also get him around people a bit more, Harry mentioned how he would love to volunteer but worried about his memory. He didn't want to let anyone down and did not have confidence to go somewhere on his own and didn't want to tell anyone about his diagnosis he hadn't met. On learning this, we offered him a volunteer role in our office.

Harry gladly accepted the offer, but only on the condition we took him through a proper selection process and insisted we treat him like anyone else going for a job. After his very formal interview and police check, we gave him a letter of offer and welcomed him into the office for a few hours twice a week.

We gave Harry tasks that he could do easily without fretting about his memory, and always ensured he was seated near our reception so he could talk to all our staff as they came and went for meetings. He had an excellent system for writing down his tasks to post-it notes and bulletin boards to help him through his tasks as independently as possible and took incredible pride in the work he did.

After a few years, we began to recognise his needs were becoming more pronounced, and the time finally came that his family asked for advice on the next step for him. We worked with his family to find a suitable residential care home with specialist dementia care - but we talked to them first and ensured they knew his office skills and what an asset he had been for us.

Once we were confident we had found Harry a home where he would feel safe, surrounded by friends and (importantly) useful, we helped him to settle in, but first he made sure that he officially gave his two week's notice to his volunteer position and diligently worked his last few weeks.

We still went to visit Harry regularly for the next few years and were pleased to see that he kept up his filing and reception duties in his new home. He would sit near the nurse's station and help them to keep track of everyone's comings and goings. They did not know what they had done without him.

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