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Dementia Action Hero: Lynn Holden

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Dementia Action Hero: Lynn Holden

Lynn Holden is a dedicated Praxis Care support worker who specialises in supporting people with dementia at Foyle Floating Support Service. For one individual, she went beyond the requirements of her role to ensure that in many aspects of his life, he and his family were getting the support they needed.

During Lynn’s wedding preparations – her wedding was postponed several times during the pandemic until she finally tied the knot in November 2020 – she dedicated herself to one man with dementia whose physical condition was deteriorating rapidly, placing great stress on him and his wife, his informal carer who was also a carer for their adult child with learning disabilities.

The man’s social worker was off on long term sick and the family were in ‘drift’. Lynn used her experience to support the service user and his wife by campaigning for an increased care package, an effort which took weeks of persistent lobbying. The package was finally put in place with mobility aids and adaptations to support the family. But the service user and his wife then contracted COVID-19 and Lynn supported the family during isolation with essential shopping and medication drop offs.

Throughout this period, Lynn provided emotional support to the service user and his wife who was experiencing poor mental wellbeing and exhaustion. Lynn made herself available to the family, advocating on their behalf, challenging barriers to services and ensuring that they had a voice during a time of crisis, preventing further hardship.

Lynn’s support has been described by the family as ‘invaluable’. At a time of crisis amid ongoing uncertainty, Lynn provided reassuring and consistent support, supporting a family navigating changing health outcomes, COVID-19, barriers to accessing services due to remote working, redeployment of statutory key workers, and carer ‘burnout’.

Lynn’s support to the service user’s wife included sourcing help which made her more confident in her caring role, for example, moving and handling training. Lynn also supported the wife emotionally with practical advice. For example, when the wife found it difficult to support her husband no longer being able to communicate with her, Lynn encouraged her to spend time with him discussing past memories. 

Subsequently they both found talking about older memories helped conversation and was comforting for her and her husband with dementia. Lynn encouraged bringing out old photographs and postcards and listening to music and the carer believes this helped her reconnect with her husband who she believed she was losing to dementia.

Lynn’s support not only had a direct impact on the family but also on the couple’s adult children and wider family as they were reassured their parents were receiving invaluable support leading to better outcomes. While Covid-19 has changed the way support is delivered, from traditional face to face to a more blended model of telephone, doorstep and socially distanced support, the support on offer has only changed in style while the quality and level have been retained.

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