RBL provides first-class dementia care for veterans.

“Falling in love is encouraged” - The Legion’s approach to dementia care

By providing dedicated dementia care for older veterans and their families, The Royal British Legion is here to help you live on through life.

“It’s about living. People don’t come here to die, they come here to live.”

Craig Edser is part of a team taking a new approach to dementia care at the Legion, called the Butterfly Project.

“We try and give them their reality and not a truth that’s going to hurt and upset them.” Craig Edser, Head of Dementia

“Our approach to people with dementia is to be on their journey and go along with their truth. If my friend is a 20-year-old football player in his world, then that’s what he is and I’m going to play football with him.

The Legion's dementia care units enable veterans to get the most out of life.

“If someone’s talking about their dad, and we know that their dad’s passed away, then we’d go along with it and ask what would your dad be doing now. We try and give them their reality and not a truth that’s going to hurt and upset them. Our approach is that it’s their life and their home and we’re just invited into it.”

Everything is treated as an activity so residents are involved and motivated.

Everything is focused on a person’s individual needs. Each room is personalised by them and families are encouraged to bring in a person’s favourite chair and items that they recognise.

“How I see it is that they’ve had everything taken away so we’re going to try and give it back to them. We’re going to try and create an environment where they’re comfortable and encourage conversation and new experiences.

“Everything we do is activities-focused and everything is an activity, even things like picking out clothes in the morning is an activity.”

“It’s not hard to make that change to a care home that’s full of love.

The staff are always trying to find new ways to get patients involved.

“The change you can see in people is incredible. One guy was from another care home and then came to us and he hadn’t been out of his chair for a long time. So I spoke to the Matron and asked ‘Why’s that?’.

“It seemed to me that it was easier for staff to bring him out of his bed, into his chair and not support him to walk. You ought to see this fella now, from his room he’ll dance down the corridor.

“His family say, ‘Picture my dad dancing, dad’s not been out of his chair for years.’ That’s it, that’s the moment. That’s why we’re there, to help people to live.”

Maintaining dignity

“It’s vitally important to keep a person’s dignity. They know what’s happening, if they’re untidy or making a mess. Se we always maintain that it’s ok, we’re friends together. We never come in and make a fuss. This way they’re comfortable and not in fear of what’s going on.

Veterans with dementia receive the best possible care the Legion's care homes.

“That’s why everyone who starts with us will spend two weeks with me before they start with care. I want them to get to know the residents before they go into the resident’s personal room, their home, and doing personal care. It’s important for me that they’ve got that familiarity.”

Falling in love

“It’s not hard to make that change from a care home that’s task-orientated to a care home that’s full of love.

“There’s a lot of care homes that just separate themselves from the person and people are just room numbers. We don’t have that, everyone’s known by their names.

“Falling in love is encouraged.”

“We don’t have staff toilets, we eat together, we drink together, we do everything together. There is no us and them.

“It is a hard, emotional job, because you are going to get attached and fall in love. It’s encouraged. I hear some other places saying ‘Don’t get too close to anybody’.

“Well how can you? You’re in the wrong job. You’re not stacking cans of baked beans; you’re dealing with people with feelings.

“It is a family, it is something that you take home with you, you constantly want to improve every day. We all look out for each other.

“It’s a challenge, but it’s worth every minute. You miss it when you’re not there, you want to get back and see what’s going on. When you’ve got staff that get it, it’s just brilliant.”

Find out more about the Legion’s services

From providing dedicated care homes for older veterans, to dementia care and in-home support for carers, The Royal British Legion is here to help you live on through life.