5 minutes with Jayne Vale from Helping Hands
We caught up with Jayne Vale who is Dementia Specialist at Helping Hands. Jane works closely with healthcare professionals around the UK to provide advice and support, and also trains new carers in dementia awareness and how to be a great dementia carer. In the interview she told us more about Helping Hands and the work they do, how home care provided to people living with dementia can enable them to live independently at home and their future plans.
Can you tell us about Helping Hands and what your role involves?
Founded by Mary Lee in 1989, Helping Hands is a specialised, family-run care company that offers bespoke care packages to customers that is now managed by Mary’s two sons, Tim and Ben. We currently provide care for people between the ages of 18 and 105, and we specialise in providing tailored care packages for each individual customer, allowing them to remain in the comfort and familiarity of their own home.
I joined the team at Helping Hands as an hourly carer 15 years ago, and I am now Dementia Specialist. I work closely with healthcare professionals around the UK to provide advice and support, as well as training new carers each week in dementia awareness and how to be a great dementia carer.
Working in the care industry has always been a calling for me, but when I had a personal experience of dementia after a family member was diagnosed with the condition, I was determined to build my knowledge and experience by attending courses and seminars through various dementia organisations. It is this first-hand experience in seeing the difference that great care makes to dementia customers that has given me this unique passion which continues to this day.
What other jobs have you had in your career to date and how did they lead you to your current role?
In 2004, I started my career with Helping Hands as an hourly carer. This was my role for the next seven years where I supported a variety of customers with all conditions, although most of my customers had some form of memory loss or dementia. I then moved to the training team and became the lead trainer, where I delivered dementia awareness training to all professional carer and support teams.
In 2011, I completed a dementia specialist course with Worcestershire County Council where I received my Dementia Specialist accreditation. From this, I expanded our training further, where I brought to life a remarkable understanding for those who care for our customers with dementia and the knowledge that our carers will go on to provide excellent support.
In 2012, I won the UK’s Dementia Care Personality of the Year award at the UK National Dementia Care Awards – which is established as the leading UK event to recognise and reward the very best people in dementia. It was an unexpected surprise, as my main reason for attending the awards was to go to the conference and see what else I could learn about dementia.
As Dementia Specialist, my main responsibilities now involve training carers, managers and office staff in dementia awareness, enabling them to forward that training to our carers so that we can continue to provide specialist dementia support to our customers and their families.
The focus of your organisation's service is on providing home care that provides the expert care and support people need to live independently at home. How would you say the service differs when supporting people living with dementia and their carers?
If there is anything that my experience in dementia awareness has taught me, it is that familiarity is key. When somebody is living with dementia, it can be a very distressing and unnerving time for both the individual and their family. Our homecare service ensures that each of our customers are cared for with compassion in the comfort of their own home, where they can have close contact with their neighbours, friends and family and remain in a familiar setting.
By providing bespoke homecare packages to our customers, there are no restrictions on mealtimes or visiting hours, so our customer’s family are able to visit freely and feel comfortable in the family home. This enables family members to enjoy their quality time with their loved ones, and our expertly-trained carers have the knowledge and resources available to guide the family in communicating with their loved one as their condition develops.
One of our recent campaigns has been around seldom heard groups of people with dementia which includes LGBT+, BAME communities, young onset dementia, learning disabilities, prisons and rural communities. Are there ways you think home care providers could look to work with these different groups?
I think that each individual with dementia needs their own bespoke care, as we are all different. Our training covers all different types of dementia, especially the types that are least common, as this is a great learning curve for our carers. We also provide online training that covers all the different types of dementia so that, regardless of the individual’s backgrounds, our team are able to support our customers so that they can – most importantly – live as independently as possible.
What future work are you planning around dementia?
Throughout my time at Helping Hands, I have had the opportunity to take my passion further. In 2014, I established Helping Hands’ first ‘Dementia Family Day’, which resulted in a huge success and pleas for the training to be rolled out across England and Wales. I regularly hold Dementia Family Days across the UK to inform and support families with a loved one living with dementia, as well as delivering training from a specialist centre in Spain.
For the future, we are currently developing a dementia online course for our carers, and we will continue to train our carers and managers to an exceptionally high standard ensuring that we continue to provide specialist dementia care to our customers.
We are also on the constant look-out for marketing opportunities in order to promote our specialist understanding of dementia, so that we can reach out to more individuals who need support.
You can follow Helping Hands on Twitter at @Helping_HandsUK or visit their website at https://www.helpinghandshomecare.co.uk/