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An old man smiling while having a conversation with a woman who is shown from a backside angle

Supporting a life of service

Monday 15 February, 2021

Image of a woman named Audrey who is wearing uniform of a red jacket, red beret and her red shoulder bag.

Audrey had been a member of the Australian Navy and led a very busy and structured life. In the care home where Audrey now lives, she rises early in the morning and stands near the nurse station wearing her “uniform” of a red jacket, red beret and her red shoulder bag.

DSA was contacted by care home staff when Audrey started becoming agitated and unsettled, particularly when she found it difficult to communicate with staff. They were concerned these changes in behaviour were becoming more frequent and that she was losing weight and having difficulty sleeping. Audrey frequently waked through the night, often visiting the nurse’s station.

Through discussions with staff, the DSA consultant learnt Audrey enjoyed helping the staff with documentation and other similar tasks and had a previous occupation as a Morse Code Operator. Understanding Audrey’s history, the consultant requested the purchase of a Morse code machine, which could be a familiar and enjoyable activity for her and provide a sense of purpose.

The DSA Consultant also recommended new strategies to assist with Audrey’s sleep disturbance, including creating a sleep-inducing environment, a bedtime routine, and offering some gentle music and a back rub. The consultants also provided some strategies to address Audrey’s weight loss.

Audrey also had a history of painful conditions including chronic shoulder pain. DSA recommended frequent pain assessments, some guidance in talking to Audrey about her pain, and purchased a cross the body style handbag to reduce the pain in her shoulder which is exacerbated a heavy bag.

Staff at the care home reported that Audrey is now more settled as a result of pain and sleep strategies and has been enjoying the Morse code machine and her new bag, organising it the way she likes and taking it with her everywhere.