Our struggle with dementia may be ‘blueprint for care’

Syd Mayne has praised the support he and his wife received
Syd Mayne has praised the support he and his wife received
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THE self-penned story of a man whose wife was diagnosed with dementia is to be sent to 14,000 care home workers around Britain to encourage them to treat their residents with compassion.

Syd Mayne, 78, wrote Journey into Loneliness after his wife Kate moved from their home in Bonnyrigg to Springfield Bank Care Home in December 2010.

Syd Mayne with wife Kate

Syd Mayne with wife Kate

The book charts their life together, the struggle their family faced when Kate was diagnosed with dementia, and the dedication of staff at the care home. The couple met at a dance at the Fountainbridge Palais in 1954, and had three children. Mr Mayne became a TV writer and then sports writer at The Scotsman, and his wife, now 80, worked as a nursery nurse.

But shortly after their golden wedding anniversary in 2005, doctors confirmed that Mrs Mayne had dementia.

Mr Mayne said: “That day was the turning point in our relationship. Not only was I her loving husband, but now I had to be her carer and guardian. I didn’t know if I would be able to cope.”

Despite the difficulties of his wife’s illness and seeing her go into residential care, he said staff at the home had provided a great deal of support.

“I’m there every day without fail to see Kate and I see them all and they say ‘Hello Syd, how are you doing?’, they’re looking after me as well as Kate. It’s not only the carers who are brilliant, but it’s the cleaners, the handyman, the kitchen staff and I’ve nothing but praise for the whole lot.”

He said staff went out of their way to make life normal for the couple, despite the difficulties of his wife’s illness.

“On one occasion, Kate and I longed for somewhere we could be alone to sit and cuddle. Shortly after I raised this query with the management, they called me into a room where they had created a little lounge for us, complete with two settees they had purchased especially for us. Since then we have used the room almost every day.”

The staff even decorated the room, which he describes as “our little love nest” for their wedding anniversary in June, providing posters, balloons, cards and cakes.

When Dr Chai Patel, chairman of the firm HC-One, which runs the home, read Mr Mayne’s article he decided he would like to publish glossy copies of it and send them to each of his 241 homes across the UK. He is encouraging 14,000 staff and 10,000 residents to read it, in the hope it will become a “blueprint for care”.

Dr Patel said: “I was incredibly humbled when I first read Mr Mayne’s moving article.

“It underlined for me exactly the type of care we aspire to provide throughout all our homes. I felt that Mr and Mrs Mayne’s story should be shared with all HC-One staff so that together we can all work on improving the lives of those residents and their families who are living with dementia.

“The staff at Springfield Bank have gone above and beyond the call of duty to ensure that Kate is well cared for and that Syd doesn’t have to worry. This is the blueprint we want all of our homes to offer.”