Being There For Mum
FamilyNewsNow was created by Mike to help him and his wife, Sally, support Sally’s Mum who had moved to a care home, had mild dementia and significant physical limitations following a series of strokes.
At first, the main idea was to develop something simple to help Sally’s Mum recall the day, date and time and a way of sharing family experiences in real time.
The solution – an application for a tablet which displays regular updates from the family on their whereabouts, news and photos.
Mike says: “At first it was helpful to keep Sally’s Mum in touch with a busy family who were not always able to see her on a daily basis.”
As she became more forgetful, she started to become anxious, asking where her family were. Sally says: “We would always answer her questions, and try to reassure her, but we realised it would be useful to have an informative aid to reinforce the information we told her for when we weren’t around.”
“It became a very effective tool for her, and for us to know that there was something to help relieve her anxiety,” she says. “It helped her remember things, and in the last stages of her life, it became useful for the care staff to read it and understand what was going on in the family, and who was coming to visit on any particular day. It also provided subject matter for carers to have conversations with her.”
The tablet application is now being rolled out to a number of families with a variety of circumstances. Going forwards, Mike has more ideas to develop the app into a useful tool for those people who can feel isolated, particularly those with memory challenges. He says, “this is an exciting opportunity to use my own family’s experience to help the wider community, and we can’t wait to see what the future will bring.”
Recently the family have also used FamilyNewsNow to support Mike’s mum, Eunice. Up until last year, Eunice was living in her own home with daily care worker visit. The care worker visits re-assured the family that Eunice was safe but it was difficult to communicate regularly with her. FamilyNewsNow really helped send regular news on the family to her and by posting news and pictures, it supported phone conversations.
Eunice now lives in a Care Home and has much more support around her. However, FamilyNewsNow is still providing a wonderful means of bringing the family together - a lot of the news posted helps her carers learn about the family and engage in conversation with her. Many of Eunice’s relatives are spread around the country and, in some cases, abroad. FamilyNewsNow provides a valuable link to those far flung family members and has been particularly important during the recent challenging times of Covid-19. Eunice loves finding out about what family members are doing, what they are interested in but misses her garden – so, along with all the other family news, we put up pictures from our garden.
SOLOMON: Home Alone
Widower Solomon lives alone at home in Wales. He can no longer drive and has difficulty getting around. He has a weekly cleaner and daily care visits. Both his sons live in London. One of them donated an unwanted iPad and signed up for FamilyNewsNow. They each post to Solomon’s Family Display. He likes the photos and family news, and especially the text reminders and alerts for the day ahead, telling him which carer is visiting, together with carer team photos and names.