Aleisha is our passionate, dedicated and energetic Day Programmes Manager. She has taken a bit of time out to tell us about her role with Alzheimers Northland.
“I worked for 22 years in a rest home and became a Qualified Registered Diversional Therapist and my passion was always working with people with dementia. My Nana had lived with Alzheimers for several years, so I understand the impact that the condition has on not just the individual but the whole whanau. I decided that it was time to pursue my passion so I brought my CV over to Alzheimers Northland and have never looked back. I have worked here for seven and a half years now. Day to day I plan and implement activities taking a holistic approach to each individual. Our activities are planned around things that we know help people to live well with dementia such as stimulating the brain, getting exercise, having social connections, maintaining your cultural identity and eating well.
“It doesn’t matter if you are three or 103 everybody needs that social interaction and engagement with other people. Some people are a bit reluctant to come. There can a be a stigma around dementia and what day services might be like. We call ourselves a social club to help people to understand that we are more than they might expect. A day with us is all about fun and enjoyment. All our activities are tailored to individual needs, interests and abilities to keep them motivated and stimulated.
“The impact that we can have on a family’s life can be huge. We have daily contact not just with the person with dementia but with their carers. It’s just important that we give that time out to the carers as it is the person with dementia. We see such a change in carers when they start to get regular respite. It can be just enough to help them to cope with the daily challenges of living with someone with dementia.
“We have a client *Jane who’s family was told that she needed rest home level care and that she couldn’t stay in her assisted living care. Her daughter wasn’t ready to accept that assessment knowing how much her Mum would want to stay in her own surroundings. So she starting coming to Day Programme. Jane would come in not knowing what to do and was quite anxious and nervy. Now she waltzes in very proud. It gives her a real lift. The stimulation that Jane was getting through the Club was enough to keep her mind active and her cognitive functions stimulated to keep her in her own home.
“I thrive on seeing the benefit of the social interactions our clients have, without them they can become withdrawn. They might come in in the morning feeling a bit down but through the day they engage with other people gives them a real lift. That gives me the warms fuzzies – it’s just so rewarding!
We have a great bunch of staff that work really well together and provide a fantastic service. It doesn’t feel like a job, I get up in the morning and get excited about going to work but I so love having that interaction with the clients. I love the interaction with people. I have always been a people person. I feel really enriched by what I have learnt through my years of working with our clients.”
*Jane is not the real name of our client.