Angela: Day in the Life of a Caseworker

This morning, I am printing off the uniform badge for the Royal Artillery, a copy of the phonetic alphabet and the Morse code symbols. I will be visiting a veteran later in the afternoon, and these items could be points of interest.

I am a dementia caseworker for DIAL, supporting people living with Dementia to keep their independence and maintain activities that interest them as they continue to live at home. Alongside this, I also co-facilitate group work within residential homes. My day usually starts with researching information for beneficiaries of DIAL, such as information to link in with their interests, past, or activities we might do that day. 

My area of work covers Cardiff & The Vale of Glamorgan. 

Penarth Textile Exhibition and Memory Cafe

I travel across the city to my first visit of the day. I’ll be seeing jane, a person with early onset dementia, a type that also comes with, at times, severe physical side effects that can impinge on mobility and communication. We have planned to visit an art textile exhibition in Penarth esplanade, so I check if this is still where they would like to visit and give alternative options too.

I promote independence, encouraging security and for the individual to use a front door key before leaving the house.

We have an on-going competition in the car where we play guess the composer to classical music; Jane is always right, and names composers that I have never heard of! This ends in fits of laughter as I change the station to modern music and make out that I know the singer/song writer by making up silly names.

Jane says how lovely it feels to be out in fresh air, we have a gentle walk to the promenade to see the exhibition, rounding off with coffee and cake. 

“During our appointment, Jane is delighted to meet acquaintances and stop for a chat. She later tells me how “normal” this makes her feel, getting out and about, meeting acquaintances just as other people do.”

We manage a quick sandwich for lunch before meeting up with Colin, another person with dementia to attend a memory café where both people say they feel so welcome and relaxed. There are word puzzles and table games, so we play dominoes and chat to others in the group. Both are musical and quickly join in with the band, singing songs and dancing with the rest. There is an amazing, joyful and fun atmosphere; it’s hard not to join them, even though they laugh at my moves.

Well-fed and watered, the event ends with a game of bingo and hugs and fingers crossed to see each other again next week. The car journey home is usually spent contemplating the, “lovely day out.” We also have a discussion about dementia, where we recognise they’re at times confused, have disjointed conversations or feel anxious, however, “I’ve still got a brain, I’m still me.”

Roath Park Lake and Reminiscing

My last visit of the day is to a WW2 veteran, who has Alzheimer’s. He lives with his partner. On my arrival today there is a lot of laughing and joking about the neighbours commenting on him regularly been seen out with “another woman.” 

On the way to the car a neighbour calls out “off somewhere nice?” to which Tim jokes, “We’re off down the pub!” 

He chose to visit Roath Park Lake, where he can watch the birds and fuss all the dogs that pass by. He tells me that after leaving school at 14 years old he served as an apprentice electrician in Cardiff. He was 18 years old when he was called up to serve in the army and during his training he was ear marked for communications, training as a radio operator for The Royal Artillery. He appeared thrilled to see a picture of his old regiment badge and it was amazing to see how quickly he recalled Morse code and the old phonetic alphabet. In turn he had brought with him a photo album of his time in India, Egypt and Palestine, where he recalled many stories and friends that he had made.

On returning home he needs support to exit the car, steady himself and get into the house where he continues the conversation on his army days, showing his partner the print outs and recalling Morse code. His partner states that he enjoys the time out and shares the events with her on returning. She noted that getting out of the house helps with his mobility and helps him to keep up with his interests and hobbies.

At the end of the day I will usually park up the car, text my manager that all is well, and make some notes before driving home, thinking about my day. I’m tired, though I feel privileged these people had the opportunity to be supported to integrate into their community and in their words, “ feel normal.”