Stoke Mandeville Hairdresser Denise emphasises wants people to 'see beyond labels' on World Alzheimer’s Day

Residents (L-R) Joan Tombes, Denise and Irene Conliffe.
Residents (L-R) Joan Tombes, Denise and Irene Conliffe.

Denise Carr, a hairdresser based at Fremantle Court care home in Stoke Mandeville, maintains that World Alzheimer’s Day (21st September) is a platform to recognise the importance of seeing the person and not the dementia.

World Alzheimer’s Day is part of a global awareness effort, World Alzheimer’s Month, set up by Alzheimer’s Disease International.

This year’s theme is around stigma and breaking myths and stereotypes that surround a dementia diagnosis.

Denise has been nominated by colleagues at local care provider, The Fremantle Trust, as a Dementia Champion in this year’s National Dementia Care Awards, to celebrate the incredible bond she has created with residents at the care home.

With 42 years of experience in hairdressing, Denise has achieved her Level 2 CACHE qualification in Dementia Awareness and draws on her skills and knowledge in this area to create a welcoming environment that encourages residents to feel relaxed and at ease.

She describes her clients as ‘her friends and her whole world’ and it is this empathy, kindness and understanding that means Denise puts her clients at the heart of the service she provides.

She offers flexible appointments, recognising that people living with dementia may not always feel comfortable with a strict routine.

Denise enjoys laughing and chatting with residents, and this connection often forms the basis of her relationships and instils a sense of warmth and compassion.

Her training in dementia care has enabled her to help structure conversations and to consider the importance of effective communication and sensitivity.

She also plays music with personal resonance for residents which reduces agitation, aids reminiscence and enhances their sense of wellbeing.

Commenting on the importance of World Alzheimer’s Day, Denise said: “It’s vital that we don’t become preoccupied with labels.

"I love really getting to know clients, to laugh, chat and to just be ourselves in the moment. I am so lucky to have a job that doesn’t feel like work at all.”

Veronica Oak, a relative of a resident at Fremantle Court, added: “Denise seeks to ensure all clients are made to feel special and enjoy the experience – not only does she have the right chat but she also plays the client’s choice of music and serves tea the traditional way, in a cup and saucer!”

Jill Conroy, practice development lead in dementia at The Fremantle Trust said: “Denise is able to weave in her understanding of dementia care into the service she provides in such a natural, effortless way. She is a hugely valued member of the team.”