Dementia care is about finding moments of connection

Even if someone may no longer recognise their loved-ones, time together can still be precious


Andrew Simon's father-in-law Colin, a resident at Jewish Care's Kun Mor and George Kiss Home, with his artwork (Photo: Jewish Care)

It’s been 10 years since my father-in-law, Colin, was diagnosed with vascular dementia. Since then, my wife, Janine, and I have been learning to understand what it means to have dementia.

Colin was a businessman and a family man until retirement. In his early 80s, there were gradual changes. Colin went from being articulate and independent to being a bit vague.

He was living alone after his wife passed away, so what began with some extra help increased to full-time live-in care at home as his short-term memory and independence decreased.

Then, Colin knew who we were but didn’t remember that his late wife had died. Everyday routines grew challenging; he had more difficulty recognising us.

As Janine’s dad’s capacity to do everyday things changed, we adapted. As Janine puts it: “We learned how to enter his world, not to correct him, not to ask: ‘Do you remember?’”

The house couldn’t be adapted though, so living in his home wasn’t sustainable. When Colin went to groups, he would open up, but he was becoming more isolated at home.

We looked into options and spoke to Jewish Care, who supported us with practical and emotional advice. We spoke to Amanda Rose from the Living with Jewish Care team who really understood the difficulties we were facing from our perspective.

In the end, what made the decision was talking to her about what was on offer at care homes and realising how special it would be if Colin could move whilst he could still enjoy the benefits of engaging activities like music, reading groups, visits from nursery children, and care staff and volunteers devoting time to individuals.

The feeling, the atmosphere and the staff felt right to us when we visited Kun Mor and George Kiss Home at The Betty and Asher Loftus Centre.

Colin moved there in September 2021. With extra care at first, Colin settled in really quickly. He became part of a community, helping him to function better.

The staff are amazing and caring; they look after him and engage him. There is a shared sense of humour between the residents and staff. It creates a nice atmosphere and a shared emotion. They are a team.

For the past few years, Colin has enjoyed so much of the specialist support and I began volunteering there myself, enjoying building relationships with the residents and staff.

The DementiAbility programme has brought fascinating changes, prompting staff to discover what residents can do and inviting them to help with everyday tasks. This empowers the residents and develops in them a sense of feeling needed and valued by connecting with others through a shared focus, with activities that mean something to the residents personally.

Before moving into the home, Colin took to drawing and was proud of his creativity. We explained this to the care team, who designed Colin’s art station in the lounge so he could spend time drawing in a sociable space.

Though he may not recognise us as his daughter and son-in-law, my father-in-law feels close to us and feels good when he is with us. It is the same with the care team. Colin has a positive feeling from positive interactions and  the interest people take in him. What we now understand about living with dementia, is that it is all about finding moments for feeling and connection.

​If you would like to have a look round Kun Mor and George Kiss Home, ring the Jewish Care Direct helpline: 020 8922 2222 or email:

Andrew Simons is a Jewish Care volunteer

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