The great work of the professionals of the Home Help Service who accompany and care for Alzheimer’s patients
Having professional support to face any disease is essential to raise the quality of life of patients because, on many occasions, family members feel lost in the face of ailments that they do not know how to deal with. This is the case, for example, of families who have people with Alzheimer’s at home, a progressive disease in which the symptoms of dementia progress gradually over the years.
This September 21, as every year, International Alzheimer’s Day is celebrated in order to raise awareness and make known to the population everything related to a disease that is already considered the epidemic of the 21st century. In fact, and according to data from the Spanish Neurology Society (SEN), Spain is one of the countries in the world with the highest proportion of Alzheimer’s patients among people over 60 years of age, with a total of 800,000 cases, and it is expected that the prevalence of this disease will double in the next two decades as a consequence of the aging of the population.
Given this scenario, and taking into account that this neurological disease is the leading cause of disability in the world, it is very important that people with Alzheimer’s have appropriate care at home and, in addition, there are people who are capable of detecting the symptoms of the illness. In this sense, the Home Help Services of companies such as Clece, which offers this service to more than 115,000 users in more than 90 municipalities throughout Spain, provides an entire infrastructure of professionalized care for Alzheimer’s patients in their homes. A fact that, on the other hand, and according to the Clece specialists, is very important because they are a profile of patients who become disoriented and nervous more easily than a person who does not have cognitive problems.
From the different Clece Home Help Services, which has around 20,000 aides specialized in social health care, they have created a security and professionalization fabric for their users with Alzheimer’s that, according to them, is complex to put together, but very satisfactory when they see the results. Francisco Sánchez Cuellar, SAD coordinator of Adra (Almería) de Clece, reports that in order to improve the effectiveness of the work of the assistants who work with Alzheimer’s patients, they have introduced the figure of the social integrator into their day-to-day lives.
The role of the social integrator who guides the auxiliaries
“He is a person who has great experience in dementia disorders, assesses all users who enter new or detect that they begin to have symptoms of the disease, and once he makes the assessment he meets with the family and the assistants to indicate the way forward. For example, depending on the degree of cognitive impairment, the integrator may advise you to read, listen to music, or cook because that is what you used to do in the usual way. The integrator monitors all users together with the assistants who attend to the sick with meetings generally every 15 days, ”Sánchez Cuellar points out in detail.
The Clece coordinator in Adra (Almería) proudly explains that the role of the integrator has been fundamental for the Home Help Service aides because it has also calmed the individual frustration they had when it came to helping sick people whom they attend. “This service was born because we have several users with cognitive impairment problems who are cared for by young assistants who are very restless. They read about Alzheimer’s and told us what they were doing, but they did it independently. For this reason, seeing their concern, we began to set up meetings and share experiences, but in the end, we saw that it was not possible to progress and advance further, and that caused frustration, ”explains Sánchez Cuellar.
At this moment, she says, “we made the decision to hire an expert Alzheimer’s professional and now all the assistants know very well where they have to go. Now they have a clearer path, they know what to do with the users according to their needs and the integrator helps them in everything, there is a feedback direct between them ”. And, furthermore, he adds, “the families are delighted, we have letters of thanks from them that make us very happy. We are aware of their cognitive decline, but we are content to give them a little peace of mind and happiness ”.
Comprehensive advice and help to users and their families from day one
For her part, Coral Falcón Blanco, SAD coordinator at Clece in Madrid, says that “the first thing is to give training in Alzheimer’s and cognitive deterioration to the assistants. This allows us to attend to users in a professional way and, not only that, it also allows us to identify and detect the first symptoms of the onset of the disease. I always tell the assistants that they are the eyes that observe the first signs that give us the clues to help them ”.
It also details that SAD Madrid has a Department of Psychology that “helps us, for example, to handle situations with the most difficult users due to complicated treatment or aggressiveness. The department gives guidelines to aides, family members and / or caregivers. When there is a detection, the families are first advised on what the disease is and they are always recommended to go to the doctor for an assessment ”. From the physical point of view, details Falcón Blanco, “we also have cognitive stimulation and training for day-to-day activities – don’t forget to dress, handle money or brush your teeth – that you have to train on a daily basis.”
However, the activities they do with users depend on the level of cognitive impairment they have, for this reason, from the City Council, in SAD Madrid they have high-risk users who have a more specific protocol. “A high-risk person would be a user with Alzheimer’s who lives alone or who lives with someone who cannot take care of everything he needs.” When this happens, says Falcón Blanco, “what we do is provide a team of four assistants with all the necessary knowledge and, if someone due to illness cannot go to work, that user is always cared for by people they know because everything they are routines for them is very important ”.
Pairs of assistants for personalized attention
In the same line, they work in the Valladolid Home Help Service where they have created a special protocol for Alzheimer’s patients. Lourdes Valencia Lozano, coordinator of the Valladolid SAD, points out the importance of adequately advising the assistants and that they are prepared to be able to care for users with neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s.
“The figure of the” emotional couple “has been created, that is, a couple of assistants is assigned for the most complicated users, including people with cognitive impairment so that they are always assisted by the same assistants, ”he says. In this way, she points out, “the burden of the service is shared and, in addition, the user is not forced to meet new people when their assistants are on vacation or cannot attend due to any circumstance”.
The satisfaction of caring for and making life easier is the best reward
While in Valladolid or Almería they have incorporated figures that permanently professionalize Home Help, in Madrid they have also created the procedures manager. “He is a person that we have incorporated especially for high-risk users who helps to manage resources such as, for example, the need to have food delivered to their home, but they do not know well how to do it. The process manager goes to get the application, helps you fill it out and processes it. It makes their life easier ”, explains Falcón Blanco.
The SAD coordinator in Madrid concludes that from Clece they coordinate with all the entities that have to do with customer service and the services they receive, even if they do not belong to the company’s competencies. “I am aware that it is a laborious project, but it is worth it because it is precious, you perceive and see that the effort has rewards and that is very nice. Our work has a positive impact on people, that is our reward ”, he points out.