Becoming a Dementia Friendly Business
I previously worked in a care home for 2 years as kitchen staff. That was almost 20 years ago. However, I still have great memories from my time there and I have never forgotten the enjoyment that I got from interacting with the residents. Since then, I have been in various roles including working in sales & marketing for Yell. Around two years ago I found myself having some free time so I began looking at options for a change in career. I ended up studying to become a barber and found it to be something that I really enjoyed doing. But I was still keen on finding a way to get the same enjoyment that I gained from working with the elderly and perhaps tie this in with my new skills. Then November last year, a friend called Heather from my local church invited me into her care home where she works as an activities coordinator and that is how my journey really started.
The Art of Dementia-Friendly Barbering
I brought my little jukebox and played some old classics for the men and just watching and listening to them singing along brought back the good feeling I remembered from working in the care home back in the day. Since November my business has grown faster than I could have imagined. I was contacted by Lynda from the Alzheimer's Society who then put me in contact with Radius Housing who enrolled me in specialist Dementia training. As most of my clients have dementia, it was the way forward.
I am the first mobile dementia-friendly barber to go around care homes in Northern Ireland and provide a service like mine. Before, the salons within the care homes of Nothern Ireland were mostly suited to women from the decor to the lighting to the general chit chat. With my service, I try and cater to the men and create the whole 'barber shop' experience by adding pictures, barber signs and playing music on my jukebox. I cut the men's hair and trim their ears, nose and eyebrow hair and afterwards a good old fashioned shave followed by a head/face massage and a dash of lemon lotion to finish off.
Each person is different but I have learned that patience and talking my clients through what I am about to do really helps. I feel that my music is the thing that makes the most difference and I love to see the smiles on their faces as they sing along. I love what I do and I hope to bring my business into care homes across the UK.